A global plague. Forced shutdown of all shopping, entertainment, and worship. A Joe Biden presidential nomination. Really, who wouldn’t be depressed? The only apocalyptic items missing are a plague of locusts, hailfire from the sky, and a Nickelback resurgence.
I’m not predicting any of those, I promise. But according to new results from a longitudinal study by the University of Chicago, Americans might not feel much worse if they appear. We have hit the bottom of a 48-year trend in happiness in 2020 — and that was before the riots:
Spoiler alert: 2020 has been rough on the American psyche. Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years.
This bold — yet unsurprising — conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that.
The survey, conducted in late May, draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. No less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.