How liberals can be happier

The liberal-conservative happiness gap, then, may not be primarily about political ideology but rather connections to our country’s three core institutions. Self-identified liberals are less likely than conservatives, on average, to be tied to family, faith and community.

Our research supports that view. In a recent YouGov survey for the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution, we found a 14-percentage-point difference between liberals and conservatives age 18 to 55 in the share who are married. A minority (41 percent) of liberals are married versus a majority (55 percent) of conservatives. And there’s a full 26-point difference in religious attendance between these two groups: 18 percent of liberals said they could be found in a church, temple, synagogue or mosque at least once a month, compared with 44 percent of conservatives…

On Thanksgiving, a holiday so many of us spend with our loved ones, we emphasize that of all these social factors, the biggest factor predicting overall happiness is satisfaction with family life. Certainly this doesn’t determine the direction of causation, but the findings advance the case that support and social connections — particularly at home — are important for happiness.