The DNA of Happiness.

December often brings family and friends together at home for the holidays and a recent Prosper Insights analysis of American Pulse data finds that these pillars of the season are leading factors in what drives Americans’ happiness throughout the year.

In the month of November, 58.3% of Americans report being happy/very happy based on an average of ten variables (see chart for variables). Overall, the Happiness Index [percentage of those who are happy/very happy compared to the baseline (Feb-2010)] is up with an index of 104.1 (to be read as 4% higher than February 2010). Month-over-month, however, the rating is down with a score of 96.1.

An overwhelming majority of Americans are happy with most aspects of their life such as relationships with family and friends. More than three in five are happy with things like their faith, their residence and their neighborhood. Even two in five are happy with their jobs. It appears that government is what pulls people’s overall mood down as less than 20% are currently happy with Uncle Sam.

Happy/Very Happy* Regarding Aspects of Life
Adults 18+

Relationships with Family, 75.4%
Relationships with Friends, 72.8%
Home Life, 71.4%
Neighborhood, 63.9%
Religion/Faith, 63.0%
House/Apartment/Condo, 62.0%
Health, 59.2%
Love Life, 57.1%
Work Life, 40.1%
Government, 17.7%

Source: Prosper Insights™/American Pulse™, Nov-12

*Respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1-5 their happiness level for ten areas relating to life in general. The top two box scores displayed indicate the percentage of those who selected either happy or very happy for the respective area.

The analysis breaks down the DNA of happiness further by identifying how different areas of life have impacted overall contentment over the course of the last 34 months. On average, relationships with family and friends, as well as home life carry the most weight in a person’s overall happiness. While Government contributes the least to overall happiness, it is the area of biggest decline month-over-month (from 21.1% to 17.7%).

Average Impact* of Aspects of Life on Happiness
Adults 18+

Relationships with Family, 13%
Relationships with Friends, 13%
Home Life, 12%
Religion/Faith, 11%
Neighborhood, 11%
House/Apartment/Condo, 11%
Health, 10%
Love Life, 10%
Work Life, 6%
Government, 3%

Source: Prosper Insights™/American Pulse, Feb-10 – Nov-12
*The average impact is the weight each area on average contributes to overall happiness since February 2010

“Measuring happiness among Americans is important because oftentimes you can draw correlations between it and key economic indicators such as housing and manufacturing output,” said Dianne Kremer, Senior Analyst, Prosper Insights. “However, frustration with Washington, likely due to uncertainty regarding the fiscal cliff, is weighing down happiness levels.”

For this unique view of happiness in America, Prosper Insights analyzed 34 months of American Pulse™ data from February 2010 through November 2012, including 3,000+ respondents monthly from American Pulse™ and reInvention panels.

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