Why Are Conservatives Happier than Liberals?
July 9, 2012 - 10:17 am
Insert your snarky, cynical reason here…
Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has penned a fascinating op-ed at the New York Times that explains why conservatives describe themselves as so much happier than liberals:
Many conservatives favor an explanation focusing on lifestyle differences, such as marriage and faith. They note that most conservatives are married; most liberals are not. (The percentages are 53 percent to 33 percent, according to my calculations using data from the 2004 General Social Survey, and almost none of the gap is due to the fact that liberals tend to be younger than conservatives.) Marriage and happiness go together. If two people are demographically the same but one is married and the other is not, the married person will be 18 percentage points more likely to say he or she is very happy than the unmarried person.
The story on religion is much the same. According to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, conservatives who practice a faith outnumber religious liberals in America nearly four to one. And the link to happiness? You guessed it. Religious participants are nearly twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives as are secularists (43 percent to 23 percent). The differences don’t depend on education, race, sex or age; the happiness difference exists even when you account for income.
Obviously, Mr. Brooks never met my ex-wife. Still, it is generally true that married people are more apt to describe themselves as “happy,” which is something that has been known for decades.
The key is religion. Having faith in God gives one’s life purpose and meaning. I’ve heard believers say many times that “doing God’s will” makes them feel good. That’s got to play into a happiness quotient.