People with money and people with religious faith are more likely than others to say they lead a happy life, according to a new survey on quality of living.
Despite threats of terrorism, war in Iraq, SARS, a declining economy and national image problems, the study by the Barna Research Group found Americans are generally positive about their quality of life.
Two out of three adults (66 percent) said they were “very happy” with their life the way it is now. Twenty-two percent agreed “somewhat” with that statement, for a total of 88 percent of Americans claiming they are happy with their lives.
The study seemed to contradict arguments by some social scientists that people feel paralyzed by the stress of coping with a complex, high-demand culture. According to Barna, 61 percent of those surveyed agreed strongly that they “manage information and knowledge effectively,” and another 31 percent agreed “somewhat” that they managed the flow wisely.
Americans are aware of stress in their lives but are not generally overwhelmed by it. Only one out of four adults (25 percent) said their life “keeps getting more stressful with each passing year,” and 13 percent felt that “life has become too complex to really understand.”
The one area where Americans seemed to exercise the least control was their own health and fitness. Only 36 percent said they were presently in “excellent physical condition.”
The Barna survey showed that feelings about quality of life were heavily affected by individuals’ religious affiliation and socioeconomic status.
Evangelicals, for example, were more likely than any other faith segment to say they were happy with life (84 percent). Those in the “non-faith” category were they least likely to say they were happy with life (57 percent).
Seventy percent of people in the survey felt either strongly or somewhat that their “religious faith is constantly growing deeper.”
Socioeconomic factors were equally as strong in indicating personal satisfaction.
Adults earning $60,000 per year or more were more like to say they were happy with their lives than those making less than $30,000 per year and without a college degree. Seventy-eight percent of “upscale” adults strongly agreed they are very happy, compared to 62 percent of “downscale” Americans.
The affluent were also more likely to feel connected to other people and say they managed information well. They were less likely to see life as growing too complex or becoming more stressful. They also were less likely, 44 percent compared to 56 percent of downscale adults, to agree strongly that their faith is constantly growing deeper.