Surprise, Less Happiness During Pandemic

Since 1972, the General Social Survey has asked, “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” There were small blips over the decades, but 2020 was something else.

Very Happy

40%

Not much changed over the decades

30%

20%

10%

…until 2020.

0%

1972

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Many still answered “pretty happy.”

Pretty Happy

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

1972

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Not Too Happy

30%

But more people answered “not too happy” than ever before.

20%

10%

0%

1972

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Very Happy

Not much changed over the decades

40%

30%

20%

10%

…until 2020.

0%

1972

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Pretty Happy

60%

50%

Many still answered “pretty happy.”

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

1972

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Not Too Happy

But more people answered “not too happy” than ever before.

30%

20%

10%

0%

1972

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

The GSS used to release results every year, but more recently, they’ve released every two years. The 2020 results come from their COVID Response Tracking Study, since the GSS couldn’t run as usual.

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