July 2nd, 2008
02:30 PM ET

Why are we happier than 25 years ago?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As we head into the long July Fourth holiday weekend and prepare to celebrate our country's independence, here's something worth noting: Granted economic times are tough here in the U.S. and many countries around the world are grappling with serious issues like food shortages, but it turns out the world is a happier place than it was 25 years ago.

A new government study of 97 countries finds that Denmark is the happiest place on earth followed by Puerto Rico and Colombia, while Zimbabwe ranks last. The United States ranks 16th.

The survey is a pretty simple one, asking people how happy they are and how satisfied they are with their lives as a whole. By this measure, a so-called "Happiness Index" rose in 40 countries – and fell in 12 others – between 1981 and 2007.

Researchers say that the overall rise in happiness in many countries is due to economic growth, the move toward democracy in many countries, and an increase in gender equality and tolerance of minorities in more developed nations. A director of the study says there's a strong correlation between peace and happiness as well as between democracy and happiness.

Money also seems to play a role in the equation: researchers found people living in rich countries tend to be happier than those in poor countries. Almost all of the countries at the bottom of the list have histories of dictatorships along with widespread poverty.

Here’s my question to you: Why are we happier today than we were 25 years ago?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Happiness
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Joe in DE

    The 80's were not a good time. Oil problems, hostages, and the reseruction of trickel down economics. Yes we were probably happier.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  2. Efren

    Why am I happier, Jack? I have you to watch everyday Jack! Now that, is bliss! What kind of bliss I don't know, but bliss it is!

    Mesa, AZ

    July 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Hope, Birmingham, Alabama

    Happiness is all relative and you can't go by the happy-go-lucky sitcoms of the 1950s. Our healthcare technology is better, standard of living has improved, overall, in America, and we've made some advances in civil rights. But no matter what the times show, people can be happy or unhappy–happiness is more of an attitude.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  4. Ed Reed

    Because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. President Bush's term is about to come to an end. Hooray!

    Ed Reed
    Port Aransas, TX

    July 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  5. Mickie in Philadelphia, PA

    Speak for yourself. I'm now 64 and wondering if I'll ever be able to retire - I didn't expect to retire when I was 39; I was certainly able to do more with a buck when I was 39, and I would love to have back the body I had at 39 - so what do I have to be happier about?

    July 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  6. Kathy Glendale Heights, IL

    Am I happier today? I make more money; but I pay a higher cost of living, taxes, and end up with less at the end of each month; I have no savings; I fear for the future of my family with the environment falling apart and no real meansures to stop it; the value of my property and my dollar is decreasing even as I type this; every body part aches; gas prices are indecent; the school system is failing to educate the children at comparable rates to the rest of the world (the list is endless)-

    -but it looks like there is a good chancce that we can avoid another 4 years of Republican disaster, so yeah, Im happy!!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  7. BOB in Michigan

    We aren't Jack things in this country are much worse, and not getting any better.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  8. Amnesty IS Treason

    it's from all the narcotics being smuggled in from mexico, hey; give them another 2 billion!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Chut Pata

    You kidding right? Right now I feel so pissed off that maybe I was in 73.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  10. Mike in St. Pete Beach, Florida

    Twenty five years ago I was a 12 year old kid, it was summer, I had a brand new red 12-speed Scwhinn and the town where I lived just dug a man-made lake for the kids to use as a swimming hole, so, uh, no.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  11. David, Orlando, FL

    Several reason: ignorance is bliss, we are stupider and drugs.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  12. Mary CT

    We ARE!?!??! 25 years ago I was 19 and in college, I'd say that I was pretty happy back then.....Reagan was President, Thriller was the #1 album, Dallas and Dynasty on TV, gas was $1.25......what's to be sad about!?!?.... that last episode of M*A*S*H was pretty sad, though...

    July 2, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  13. Sally

    I think we are happier because we are a lot smarter (technology wise).
    Beverly Hills, California

    July 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Pat,Lexington, Ky.

    Where'd you get THIS idea?? Who said we're happier now than we were 25 years ago??? I'M not!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Bill F

    In all reality, it makes no sense. Crime is worse. Drugs are worse. The economy is worse. We're at war. Kids are having sex and getting pregnant as early as 12 or 13 years old. Our educational system has collapsed because parents baby their children, coddle their "self-esteem", and side with them over educators, while those educators are forced to teach the kids how to pass a test, rather than how to succeed in life. Maybe we're all swimming in hope - the fact that no matter what happens with the next administration, it can only be better. Look, I'm smiling already.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  16. Terry in Hanover County

    There you go again, reading opinion pieces by psychiatrists. When will you learn? My personal life is fine, not better and maybe a lot worse due to today's economy, But I'm absolutely miserable when it comes to that mess called "our government." If this is how our tax dollars work, please stop taxing us. The American people deserve a whole lot better.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  17. Jenny Rome Ga

    I know why I am happier than I was 25 years ago. I married my husband an have two of the worlds greatest kids. Also those big hair styles of the 1980's were a real pain to maintain and the shoulder pads were not real flattering (unless you were Lnda Evans!!!). So I have a great family, easy hair style and comfortable clothes, now if I just has the gas prices of the eighties.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  18. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    They must not have asked anyone who is losing their home today, or their job gets moved to Mexico or China, or they can't afford food to eat, or gas to go look for a job, or the person who can't get decent medical treatment since they lost their job and their benefits because they're not illegal immigrants. Who got asked, the people who reap the benefits of the Bush tax cuts or the CEO's of the oil companies?

    July 2, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  19. Linda in Virginia

    Not this year Jack. We have a world of weight on our shoulders The economy is sour and we want sweet. Gas prices are 4 and we want 1. Steak is way expesive and so is balonga. Stock market is disolving our retirement funds. Houses can't be sold and heaven help trying to find a job these days. 30 miles per gallon just ain't cutting it with our car milage. And did you hear about. that no good president of ours, he's enough to make you angry.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  20. Jenny Rome Ga

    I know why I am happier than I was 25 years ago. I married my husband an have two of the worlds greatest kids. Also those big hair styles of the 1980’s were a real pain to maintain and the shoulder pads were not real flattering (unless you were Linda Evans!!!). So I have a great family, easy hair style and comfortable clothes, now if I just have the gas prices of the eighties.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  21. Tom in Tulsa

    The reason we are so happy today is because we all know that George Bush will only be in office for a few more months!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  22. Martha K

    Who SAYS we're happier than 25 years ago??? Not me. Country is going to hell in a handbasket and life was infintely better 25 years ago.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  23. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Did not realize we are. Goodness, 25 years ago was a dream
    compared to today.
    Can't remember exactly what was going on 25 years ago, but
    do know we did not have the incompetent governing body
    we do today.
    Did not have the economy, deficit, broken school, medical
    system and so on.
    No we are not happier.
    We are scared!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:32 pm |
  24. Karen, Idaho Falls Idaho

    Hi Jack,

    I don't know who you've been talking to–maybe happy millionaires. The rest of us are over worked, over stressed, over spent, fatter, and more unhappy about our situation than ever before!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  25. Jeff, Galena, MO

    Who says we're happier now than we were then? Actually, I was much happier then than I am now.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  26. Jan Davis, Knoxville, TN

    Definitely NOT Jack. Technology and progress were supposed to make our lives easier–instead the reverse is true. I have less and less time each year to do fun things. Everyone but the rich works harder these days just to make ends meet. The economy is terrible, we have been at war way too long, and gas is so expensive. We can thank the Republican Party for this! There seems to be no hope of improvement anytime soon unless Barack Obama is elected in November.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  27. Mike

    We are????
    Mike CA

    July 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  28. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    That's a no brainer, Mr. Happy...because 25 years ago we didn't have Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro and Zoloft!!!. P.S., my analyst finds you very depressing.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  29. Jim from BC

    Age brings wisdom.

    Wisdom brings internal peace.

    Internal peace brings the knowledge of forthcoming eternal peace.

    Whatever one conceives that to be.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  30. Pat in Hampstead , MD

    As I recall 25 years ago there were long lines at the gas pump and Nixon was still President and Americans were still protesting the Vietnam War. Ironically, here we are 25 years later under a similar scenario, except this time the oil companies are using lack of supply as an excuse to destroy the American Middle Class by artificially raising the price of gas for profit and greed.

    Who says we are happier? I personally think we are worse off than in any time in History. The rest of the World hates our guts!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  31. Esther from over the rainbow

    some things yes and something no
    gas prices no
    health care no
    war on terror no
    reagan not in office yes
    bush sr. not in office yes
    bush jr no
    enough said

    July 2, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  32. J.D. in NH

    Good heavens, the poll takers must be talking to the segment of the population that is so dim witted they can't name the Vice President or find the United States on a map. Or maybe they asked the question of CEOs who make 400 times what the average worker does. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure helps when the mortgage is due, the gas tank is empty and the cupboard is bare. Most people are just happy to keep their heads above water.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  33. Greg ...Cabot AR

    I am, 25 years ago, I had 3 small children at home, a worn out car, no health insurance and lived in a rented house. I worked 7 days a week and worried about not having enough money for food, gas, medical bills and the never ending expenses of a young family.

    My kids grew up in tough times and it made them tough. Today, they are all successful with families of their own. Now, I own my own home, have a good job, money in the bank and “some” time off work to spoil the grand kids. The only drawback is they live 600 miles away and the price of gas is so high that I don’t get to see them that often.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  34. Michael Steuer, Bedford N.Y.

    I forget. Was the Cafferty File on 25 years ago?

    July 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  35. Casey in CA.

    We are? Who told you that? 25 years ago, I was thinner, richer, younger and happier!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  36. leevaughn brown

    Hey Jack
    Can I get an invite to that party! I want to be Happy Too!
    Cinti, Ohio

    July 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  37. JW Georgia

    Ask us this in two years. My guess is by then our economy will have most of us REALLY unhappy and we'd be happy to go back to less trying days.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  38. OLD EWOK, Cottonwood, Ca.

    I am very happy and have a great life...if youir not happy, get off your butt and go out and get a life.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  39. Carol

    Happiness is a state of mind. Some people can be happy even when "Its getting ugly out there" as for me I'd like to meet all those people who are happier today than 25 years ago. They must not have been born yet...and don't know any better. With all the negitivity that we have to shallow today from the press such as neighbors, family and friends losing their homes, jobs, insurance, income and the list goes on. Then to top it off we have to choose a president. no experience VS old age. I wonder if I would be happier if I just watched 30 min. of evening news.


    July 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  40. Mark - Asheville, NC

    Speak for yourself. I would go back to 1983 with no qualms, but to make me extremely happy, I would head for 1967!!!

    Happier now?? This century sucks!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  41. Darlene - PA

    I'm actually happier now despite the fact that I am much more broke now than i was then. One reason for my happiness is Obama, he is like a breath of fresh air that has not blown before in all my 44 yrs.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  42. Bert Oak View, CA

    My wonderful wife and fantastic kids more than make up for the fact that many of our jobs are going overseas and the jobs that haven't left the country, have employers willing to steal from Americans by hiring illegal aliens and then wanting the US TAX payor to pick up the health care. If it wasn't for my wife and kids, I'd have gone completely crazy years ago!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  43. Judie

    I do not care what the studys say I was pretty happy 25 years ago. I had my looks, my shape, all my teeth and a promise of a wonderful future if I worked for it. Well I still have my looks though they are faded a bit, I am now gravity challanged in certain areas, and I still have all my teeth that show, and I still have hope for a wonderful future. I am not quite so happy with the thought that I will probably be working until the end to pay for all the luxuries that I have become accustomed to, you know, food, shelter, medication,utilities and doctor bills. So I was happier in my ignorance 25 years ago than I am with my reality of today.

    St. Augustine, Fl

    July 2, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  44. Mwita (Los Angeles, CA)

    Because we have satellite and cable TV. And I personally have the NFL channel, my own slice of heaven.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  45. Dick B

    I think it is because we lie to survey takers.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  46. Jerry- NYC

    Are you for real? I don't know ANYONE who would admit to being happier today then they were 25 years ago!

    Back then, my life was spread out before me; I had hope, I believed in infinite possibilities for success if I worked hard and was loyal and responsible to my job. What a naive baby I was!

    I have never been able to afford to buy my own home, still live in the same apartment I've had for 30 years and live paycheck to paycheck. At least I still have a paycheck!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  47. Keith - Twinsburg, Ohio

    Well Jack, I can tell you why I'm so damn happy NOW... I retired in December... Best move I ever made...

    Now, as long as the money lasts, and congress doesn't cut my Social Security 'wages' I will be happy just sipping my ice tea and watching you and Wolf in the Situation Room... (Love your comments.)

    What I'm waiting for NOW is voting day, so that I can vote against all of the imcumbents and get some new, motivated, passionate people in their place...

    July 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  48. AndyZ Fairfax, VA

    You must be getting ready for the weekend. Let me explain why I was happier twenty-five years ago. First, I could go out and party and not need several days to recover; when I got out of bed I did not sound like an over active bowl of Rice Krispies; I could stand straight up, look down and see my feet; I could eat anything without worrying what indescretions my digestive system would bestow on those around me (on more than one occassion friends wanted to call the EPA); I could bend over to pick up a dropped item and not feel compelled to calculate the probabilities that I could once again rise to the verticle and I would have laughed at those that required Viagra. You betcha, I was much happier twenty-five years ago 😉

    July 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  49. Richard Sternagel

    Who says we are Happier? I don't think so after the rape of the USA by the Bush Administration!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  50. ira.

    After swimming in a ocean of shark, jellyfish and stormy seas we have come to a point where we are "SURE" that the world can only be save by our off spring. It is the only thing that confirms that we did right by them an we have to practise Happiness as a matter of self pity that pervade our every move.

    Ira – Harriburg, Pa.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  51. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: We are happier today than we were 25 years ago because;
    We have Hoot Gibson as President
    Gas is $5.00 a gallon
    Food Prices are Soaring
    With are at war with Iraq and in Aftganistan
    Probably going to bomb Iran
    Health Care cost is out of control
    Illegals Aliens are migrating into the US by the millions
    Recession is here or it is pretty close
    It is an election year

    And with all that being said, I'm going to have expresso, because Jack, it doesn't get any better than that!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  52. dennis north carolina

    Jack, your mind must have been re-programed?? this is the way of the future, which is to make people feel happy even though they are not.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  53. Ted Beaverton, OR

    It's all perspective. Many people were not even born 25 years ago. This younger generation simply does not understand what it means to get gasoline at 89 cents a gallon, or bread at 69 cents a loaf, or a bottle of Jack Daniels at 7.35. They don't realilze how many more people had to go to their American jobs even at lower wages, and how only about 8 million people were without health insurance and their pensions were a solemn promise gladly kept by employers. This was a heavy duty responsibility willingly carried by Americans; So sure I really am much happier today. So are about 70% of the American people.

    Happier that each day is one day closer to Inauguration day.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  54. Mike, Syracuse NY

    It must be because the second coming has arrived in the form of Obama. If you don't believe me, just ask his supporters. I hope he makes tomorrow a nice day; I have to mow the lawn.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  55. Karen in Fairfax, CA

    Twenty five years ago I was working in a coal and oil boomtown in Gillette, Wyoming, worrying about how fat I looked in jeans while dancing the two-step at Boot Hill. Reagan was secretly funding a coup in Nicaragua while idolizing America as the shining light on the hill. I'm happier now because I no longer care what anybody thinks of me, and the country has wised up a little to Republican fear tactics and destructive Rovian political strategies.

    Mostly, though, people are probably happier because denial works real good.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  56. Terry from North Carolina

    You must have had some of those mushrooms on your day off. How can you even think that we are happier ? Gas is $ 4.00 a gallon which has an effect on everything else we purchase, we have the worst health care system, take a look at yesterdays story about the death of an emergency room patient at Kings County Hospital In Brooklyn. The middle class American is no more. And you think were happier ?

    July 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  57. Maggie Muggins From Selwyn

    Likely the only ones who are happier today are the right wing conservative & coporate elitists and dopers. Both segments are totally wrapped up in their own little world at the moment and seemingly oblivious to all the problems going on outside their own little worlds.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  58. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    We are programmed to say we're happier because it makes us appear to be positive thinkers. Anything less than that you're put on the negative hit list of being a very unhappy person.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  59. Amy_Michigan

    Hey Pat in Hampstead-
    Nixon was long gone by 1983 (25 years ago)
    Reagan was President and I don't remember and protest about Vietnam.

    Anyway- No we are not happier. Life was better and simpler in 1983!
    Gas was cheaper, the ecomomy was better and people had jobs!

    July 2, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  60. Don Bezler

    Jack,If you have enough money the Bush economy might not be too
    bad but 25 yrs. ago working people could make a living then
    Clinton took over & working people made a GOOD LIVING .
    Then came the BIG SHOT war LORD & he took this Country to
    HELL in a basket.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  61. Mike Nunn - Hot Springs, Ar.

    Exept for the fact that I am now 25 years older, we can say that we are much happier on a personal level. We are retired with a decent retirement pay and enough money to take care of our needs and pleasures. We got there through planning and saving – something that too many of today's young persons are not doing. As far as the nation goes, I am very disturbed and feel the future is now in doubt. Bush has taken us down to the very bottom and I am not sure we can get back up before the count reaches 10. For that reason alone I am very happy that I am 25 years older and most likely will not be around to see the end.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  62. Carlos


    I do not think we really are that much happier. We want to belive we are happy because that is the only thing we have control of in this dismal economy. Gas pricese rise, jobs are lost, doller is declining, are nations security is no safer then it was five years ago, and are civil liberties are being stripped away. I think we have to con ourselves into belivine that we are happy just to get through the day.

    Carlos from West Palm Beach, Fl

    July 2, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  63. Steve Idaho

    25 years ago the government declared war on drugs, sparking off gang wars and crack cocaine to fill the streets of America. The me generation was born and corporate scandals filled the businesses. Michael Jackson was singing Beat it. Bad now meant good, cool turned into killer and far-out turned into radical. Of course we're happier now than we were then, but it can't be by very much.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  64. Martha - Charlotte, NC

    Price House One Story 2-Bedroom: $36,000
    Price House Two Story 4-Bedroom: $85,000
    Price Car Ford Escort: $6,900
    Price Car Buick Skylark: $9,350
    Price Milk Gallon: $1.89
    Price Gas Per Gallon: $1.29
    Price Bread $.66
    Price Postage Stamp $.20

    July 2, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  65. Lene'

    well, I think there was alot more freedom 25 years ago then there is now. Weere not in a stupid, senseless war and enjoyed more respect around the world. As far as politics...it was the same old Republican crap and the beginnings to what we are going through today.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  66. Phil-Apple Capital of the World

    Why? Only answer I can come up with is that in 61/2 months Dubya will be on a one-way ride to Crawford, courtesy of the U.S. citizen...I'd happily volunteer my taxes for that! Other than that I have no reason to be happier now than when I was 36: I had a great job, was married and had a beautiful baby...life was good. Now all that has changed.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  67. Dan, NC

    We have computer games to play now. Need not use our brain to think productively!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  68. Sandra fromTexas

    Speak for yourself ,Jack. Not everyone out here is happier. Twenty five years ago I was young, healthy, better looking and did not pay any attention at all to politics.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  69. Sam Taylor Oroville California

    My house is paid for, and the Kid's are doing well living on their own.
    I like my old Sunbeam Alpine Gt, but most of all 9 Grandchildren, to spoil.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  70. Leith in Georgia

    If we only knew then what we know now.....

    July 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  71. Joe in VA

    To name a few reasons: My kids are grown now and neither is on drugs. Both hold Master's degrees, have good jobs and great husbands, I have 3 grandchildren – true treasures ! No more morose teenage boys hanging around the house with me worrying, "Is she gong to fall for this looser?" Oh yeah, I'm retired and out of the 50+ hour per week boiler. I'm still married to that girl I fell for and married 44 years ago. Despite the current mess our country is in, I find myself blessed.

    Chatham, VA

    July 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  72. gary lee, san luis obispo, ca.

    well acording to the dems, times are awful. shooooooooooot, acording the most of the people who post on Jacks blogs we're miserable. so i'm not sure i understand the question, lmao

    July 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  73. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    Anyone who is happier today than they were in the past is a low grade imbecile or a billionaire. If you have the IQ of a jelly donut or higher, you cannot possibly be happy until the Bush administration is finally a history lesson.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  74. Willow, from Iowa

    Jack, 25 years ago, I was 30 years old and going through a miserable divorce with two small children to raise. I am happier now because I just went through ANOTHER miserable divorce and am really happy now because I no longer have to deal with either one of them. My children are grown, they're children are growing up, and I can finally enjoy doing things for myself.

    I think happiness or contentment is what you are. If you were a contented happy little kid, you will be a contented happy senior citizen. I don't believe it has anything to do with money, government or anything else. At least in the developed world we live in.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  75. Ray, Florida

    Speak for yourself Jack!!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  76. Jenny Rome Ga


    Not to complain but I think Pat in Maryland is going back 35 years, not twenty five. I am pretty sure Nixon was not President in 1983.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  77. Warren, Detroit

    The sale of anti-depressants is at an all-time high... that might have something to do with it.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  78. Russ, Seattle



    July 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  79. Jason, Koloa, HI

    The answer to that question, just like the question itself, is all a matter of perspective.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  80. Bruce St Paul MN

    The goverment of the one percent, by the one percent, and for the one percent has led the huddled masse to antidepressant drugs and lowered expectations.We are comfortably numb.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  81. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Jack considering I wasn’t alive 25 years ago that’s reason enough for me to be happier I guess.

    P.S. I'm 22

    July 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  82. Mike from Baltimore, MD


    We are happier because we get to see CNN which has the best poltical team on television.


    July 2, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  83. Cliff Dick

    Who is happier "Kemo Save" as Tonto would say.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  84. Stacy from Loudoun County, VA

    Jack, I thought I would be happier because I can vote, buy beer, and drive a car. Problem is it costs too much to drive, I can’t afford to buy a beer, and I don’t know who to vote for. Growing up stinks.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  85. Ethan-TRF,Minnesota

    I wasn't around in 1983(I'm 15) of course life was probably simpler when gas was cheap and people actually had jobs,but there was that looming chance of nuclear war with the USSR(Russia),which really hasn't gone away because of Iran and other nations.I personally would rather live in Maoist China than live in today's US,because of what people like Bush and McCain have done to this country,causing
    gas prices to soar over $4.00 in 33 states,and wanting to deny equal rights for gays(They have rights!!!),etc.


    July 2, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  86. Tim

    Well that's just it Jack–we're not!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  87. Greg form Mechanicsburg PA

    We can thank those over fifty-five for that. Whether it’s due to an increase in serotonin, a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system and enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract, or because they just don’t worry about the bad news in the world, I don’t really care. I just wish that I could have some of whatever it is that makes them happy.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  88. Mike in NYC

    As someone who came of age in the 1970's, I can tell you that it was a much better time to grow up. And people of my parents' generation will generally tell you that their time was even better.

    I feel very sorry for kids today, and those that are trying to raise them.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  89. sharon kitchen

    The Bush era is ALMOST ended.................

    July 2, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  90. Katherine

    Because we are all broke

    July 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  91. Michael Voorhees, New Jersey

    Well, 25 years ago I was not born yet, so yes. I am happier!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  92. Diane Glasser

    Who thought up this question? I was much happier 25 years ago when I thought I could retire at 55 and enjoy painting and traveling. Now over 60, I can not afford not to continue to work. If I stop working I will be like the homeless soldiers that came back from Iraq and found they had no medical coverage, no job, and no place to live. You have the Baby Boomer generation unable to retire now because of the economy.
    You need a reality check for asking such a stupid question.
    Diane from PA

    July 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  93. Dan, Maryland

    Jack, I'll tell you why. I'm 23, so 25 years ago the world didn't have me in it. Enough said.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  94. Rosalynd Florida

    Are you kidding, happy in this economy? I have not seen anyone laughing and smiling at the gas pump , at the food stores or when the bank puts a big ole foreclosed sign on their door. I guess if mizery loves company we are all giddy with delight or we are hearing the laughter of those too intoxicated to think.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  95. Allen L Wenger

    Who is this "we" you are talking about? I'm not happier and nobody I know is happier. This sounds like more misinformation coming out of our government. Is it supposed to make us think "what is wrong with me, everyone else is happy", instead of "Why can't our government do anything right"? Who did this survey?

    July 2, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  96. Pugas-Az

    Are we?

    July 2, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  97. don in naples, florida

    Life is the same now as it was in the 80's. we are not happier we are just anaesthetized by time. You see trickle down economics in full swing, and republican in office who out-spends Reagan if you can believe it with government pork. We are in a perpetual on going war, however instead of a "drug war" which Reagan chose to take up arms, we now have a "war on terror". Usama bin laden <– 80's figure leading the enemy. These cowboy politicians who always want to be Don Quixote and fight some ideological foe begin to wear on me. the only true reasons for warfare in this post colonized world are greed or power. there are no other reasons for warfare today. if we are happier it is because americans are getting dumber and don't realize that they are being lied to.. Otherwise i don't see much change.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  98. Linda in Virginia

    1983 was just warming up to the best years of my life. Everything was totally different than it is today. I was younger, lighter, employed, and enjoying gas prices that allowed me to drive Atlanta to Florida just for a weekend adventure every other weekend. My mortgage was 15k and my car was 6k

    Compare 2008, mortgage 112k, car 14k gas 4 per gallon, and not able to have a vacation in the last 7 years, older, heavier, unemployed and crying my eyes out

    July 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  99. Karen-Phoenix

    No we are NOT happier!!! Life was the best in the 50's and 60's!!! We had rules and regulations that our parents and teachers MADE us adhere too and we had boundries to live within without this masively materialistic America!!!! I was raise well–had a bike and TV but lots of rules!!! and it was good and safe!!!!! Happy to build a fort in an empty lot!!! Ride my bike to the park and play!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  100. Bob

    Drugs are more available !

    July 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  101. Jerry -Roselle, Illinois

    Because we all think we are going to Disney World after George
    Bush leaves office in January!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  102. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    Let's see,25 years ago we were cursed with reagan,had 20% inflation,gas shortages and high unemployment,but I was healthy and had hair. Now we have bush,an unlawful war,commodity prices going out of sight and high unemployment. I am also disabled,have diabetes,high blood pressure and high cholesterol and have lost my hair. Taking everything into perspective,there is nothing to be happy about,then or now.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  103. Dan, Chantilly VA

    The Red Sox finally won a World Series. Now if the Cubs can win, we'll shoot up another 5 spots on the list.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  104. Kerry

    Well, the countries you talked about who are the happiest don't have leaders who are only interested in the mighty dollar and have ruined the moral, social, and financial structure like here in America...We are the most stressed people also except the countries where starvation is prevelant...

    And to top it off we are the # 1 drug user in the world with the most money spent on the so-called "drug war"...We are probably happier because we comsume more drugs than anybody and attempt to get away from reality...From alcohol (the #1 drug killer) to marijauna (makes us laugh and order pizza)....I'm going to make a drink..

    July 2, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  105. Betty - AL

    I don't know who you polled – it certainly wasn't me.

    My job was outsourced about 15 years ago, so I found another. Then they brought someone else in for me to train (from another country- 6 months ago) and I got the shaft again.

    Guess it just doesn't pay to be a US citizen these days.

    How do I apply to become a foreigner or an illegal immigrant so that I can reap some of the benefits that I've paid into for 47 years?

    Thanks, Jack

    July 2, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  106. CT from Bartlett

    25 years ago, we were trapped in the middle of the Reagan years. It seemed endless. Today, we have reason to rejoice. 202 days left till inauguration day! We see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Bartlett, Illinois

    July 2, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  107. sandy in Ohio

    Jack, I'm not sure I am happier but I am optimistic. Young people seem to be getting involved with a real look to changing the world. I'm hoping for an Obama presidency and a chance to put the last eight years behind us. Looking to a brighter future definitely beats looking back.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  108. incognito,arkansaw

    because the magic mushrooms i ate,back in the 80s, are still working on my spiritual phsyche, and the potency of marijuana has increased.did you know that oil from marijuana seeds burns clean?hemp makes good rope,too?it's great for combating greenhouse gases,as it is the fastest growing 'woody plant' known.instead we spend billions of dollars a year,around the world,fighting another never-ending war ,to satisfy some right-wing hypocrites.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  109. Peter Pan Fairview, Texas

    Because right now no one is blowing anything up or crashing airplanes into our land marks. Are we truly happier? I don't think so. Are we grateful that floods, famine, earthquakes and other disasters are not happening right now? You bet we are. But.... There is always tomorrow!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  110. Ryan, Champaign IL

    Because we finally have hope?

    July 2, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  111. Stacy from Farifax, Virginia

    I'm not buying it. Happiness is in the eye of the beholder. All the beholders I know are not happier and are pretty upset with the way things are these days.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  112. Paul

    Happier well we are alive and if we look around the world it can always be worse if we where elsewhere in this world. Maybe we need to sit down for a moment and look at ourselves maybe we are just a country that is never really happy.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  113. Nora Corpus Christi Texas

    25 years ago we were all younger, gas was cheaper,food was cheaper,,Reagan, was president, This is just another survey that did not get it right!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  114. Dawn, Long Beach, CA

    Divorce is no longer taboo.

    July 2, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  115. Bruce

    In 1981, Reagan had just been elected so inflation and interest rates were probably still in double digits. The oil embargo was still in our memories. Also the spped limit was still 55 ( believe Reagan promised to remove that, talk about a flip-flop;; Carter did warn us of course that Reagan wouldn't repeal it if he was elected ).
    Now if things get back to that, check our happiness then.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  116. Alan, Buxton, Maine

    I suspect that any increase is due to better economic conditions. I think that the US being only sixteenth on the list is an indictment of the current administration and can't help but wonder where we were eight years ago.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  117. Billy G in Las Vegas

    they obviously didn't ask many retirees if they are happier now than 25 years ago. I remember the great optimism after Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter in Washington and the country started to turn around from the problems of the 60's and 70's.

    with whats happening now with the deindustrialization of America, decline in the value of the dollar, record high energy prices and food inflation, I guess these "Don't Worry, Be Happy" people are either rich Wall Street hedge fund managers, Washington lobbyist political hacks or are drinking heavily.

    maybe it's all three?

    July 2, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  118. Marguerite (Toledo, OH)

    Hi Jack,

    I don't think that we are actually happier. I just think that we have learned how to deal with our issues in a better way...well some of us at least.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  119. Jeremy D (University of Texas)

    Because I can turn on my TV and see your smiling face, Jack. I know its really Wolf that keeps you smiling, but we viewers like to think its really us that keeps so chipper.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  120. Kim, Dodge City, Kansas

    So what is making me so record-breaking happy? The collapsing dollar? Our corrupt government or the Mexican invasion? Maybe it's the fradulent war that thrills me so. Could it be that dazzling, giant of an intellect we have for president? I don't know why, but I just can't decide why I'm happier.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  121. Greg form Mechanicsburg PA

    We can thank the ever increasing group of those over fifty-five for that. Whether it’s due to an increase in serotonin, a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system and enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract, or because they just don’t worry about the bad news in the world, I don’t really care. I just wish that I could have some of whatever it is that makes them happy.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  122. Anne/Seattle

    I don't agree with the survey. With each passing decade, life in America gets tougher and and more complicated. Potically and socially we've met some challenges but have created even more. Today our government has put both our domestic and foreign policy in shambles and we have so little control over changing it. I feel we live under tremedous tensions that push us away from happiness. And it just seems it was so much easier to have fun twenty-five years ago.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  123. Karen, Missouri

    Now this is a strange question. 25 years ago, many were struggling families....now 25 years later they have what they need, their careers, homes, kids are grown, etc. Then there's those who really weren't old enough to know what it was like 25 years ago.

    Is this another one of those polls that feeds the media for psychological propaganda? The Republicans may believe this crap, I doubt if real people believe it.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  124. Chad Jarman, Los Angeles

    With advances in technology, we are able to live in our own little bubbles and more effectively ignore the real problems in the world, whether domestic or international.

    Chad Jarman

    Los Angeles, CA

    July 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  125. Annie, Atlanta

    Good for all the countries ahead of us on the list. And why aren't we closer to the top? Something in your piece about poverty and dictatorships ring a bell?

    July 2, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  126. Greg, Hamilton Ontario

    It depends on how you measure happiness Jack. My kids are grown up with no tatoos or piercings. One is still in University and the other is well on his way to a career in the military and they are both healthy and the fear all parents feel is gone to a degree. The only other vector is my golf game and I don't want to lay that sad story on you.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  127. Jenna Wade

    Why are we happier today than we were 25 years ago?

    Who says that we are, the government that has failed us for the past 7+ years?

    No one asked me. Did anyone ask you Jack?

    So where did the USA rank last time?

    Are we sure that we ARE happier?

    Makes you wonder.

    Roseville CA

    July 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  128. Ray from West Chester, PA

    Somebodyy has been nipping at the magic mushroom...

    July 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  129. L.M.,Arizona

    A better standard of living with that said why is america just 16th now that's scary.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  130. Paul, Columbia, SC

    What? Me happy? With economic upheaval, two wars, mortgage meltdown, terrorism unchecked, illegal aliens, poisonous food, dollar devalued, nine trillion national debt, and rising unemployment; just has me in stitches. Logically then, I will be hysterical with the election results.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  131. Lynn

    Jack – The l980's was not a very happy time during the Reagan administration. He made alot of decisions that has affected alot of Americans today in the worse way. The l990's were the best years for most Americans including me. At the beginning of the primaries I was excited and you could say happy knowing that Bush would soon be gone. After seeing the DNC and Obama destroy the Democratic party I am very concern about America's future. I did have a Bush count down clock and since the future does not look very bright I just threw it out.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  132. warren yarber

    Jack, I am happy most of the time year in year out it's all just a state of mind. Things do not a person happy. Wartren Bristol Va.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  133. Dave in Saint Louis

    Because were still alive!

    July 2, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  134. Shafi Alam

    Jack, do you think Americans are happy to know they rank 16th in happiness?

    July 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  135. Michelle- Washington, DC

    I think there are lots of reaons but mostly, this generation of us born in the eighties were brought up in a world without limits, where we had every opportunity at our fingertips if we worked for it. 25 years ago, my family would have laughed at a woman going to professional school. Now, that's pretty commonplace. We've come a long way, haven't we?

    July 2, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  136. JD North Carolina

    Go Denmark. I guess trading higher taxes for good schools and healthcare isn't the death of a society.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  137. Bill,Quarryville. PA

    Jack you might be more happy than you were 25 years ago but I am not. After working in a machine shop for over 35 years and busting up my body with knee and back injuries and developing heart problems that forced me to go on disability. And now I have to cringe every time I see my gas gauge going down below 1/4 tank be cause it is hard for me to find money in my budget to fill it backup makes me one miserable S.O.B.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  138. Derek Wayne, NJ

    Here are some reasons:

    – Ipod
    – Cell Phones
    – Computers
    – Cafferty File

    July 2, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  139. Sam

    That's easy – Ronald Reagan isn't president anymore!!!

    Sam in Phoenix

    July 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  140. angel in LA

    Who did this new govenment study? Nielsen?

    July 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  141. Nancy, Tennessee

    I'm happy today because you are back, Jack. Going without Jack for a day is like not having your coffee. We're back in the groove today and happier than we've been in 25 years.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  142. A Kraft Naples, FL

    happy to see BUSH GO GO GO along with his cronies

    July 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  143. Timothy in Texas

    I'm happier because I'm middle-aged, over-weight, have heart trouble a bankruptcy and no sex this century.

    Who wouldn't be happy?

    July 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  144. Sue of Minnesota

    Yes, I am happier than I was 25 years ago. I'm divorce! I now have a good man beside, hopefully to grow old with.

    Doesn't mean I not scared of the future. My 401K is going down fast, thanks to the stock market.

    Everything is costing more. I make less % wise to what I make 25 years ago. My house cost 7 X's what I paid back then.

    I have a truck I love that I can't drive, because Ford didn't look look into the future. They've known since the 70"s that this was going to happen.

    But Jack I can come home and watch you when I get off work.

    What else could a woman want.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  145. Tom in Texas

    We are happier today because 25 years ago Ronald Regan came along and taught us how to read our horoscope.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  146. Patty in Maine

    Who says they are happier? I am not and most people I know are not. You can only go so far even if you are not a materialistic person who saves and does not have a lot of bills. Financially I am OK at 60 but the future does not look too good right now.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  147. Ron- San Diego

    Hi Jack:

    25 years ago I moved to San Diego. Gas was $.80 a gallon. Rent for my one bedroom apartment was $180.00 a month. I was able to attend college and pay for everything on a "PART TIME" income. I went to college, got a degree. Jumped threough all of the hoops. And my pay just don't cut it anymore.

    So I guess you could say YES. I was happier then. I think what happened to this country over the past two decades is a crime. BIG OIL, REAL ESTATE, and the politicians could take their "SUPPLY and DEMAND" theory's and shove them!! They are all a bunch of organized crooks. They all belong in JAIL at HARD LABOR..

    Ron San Diego

    July 2, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  148. Clo Fom PA

    Hell No! 25 years ago I still had a body that hadn`t headed south,had yet to worry about getting excited about getting my Medacare card. However on the plus side tis nice to see all the unconditional love my grandchildren give me,even though my kids think I am but a bleep on their so called radar of what they thought I once was.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  149. Carol in California

    We're happier today than we were 25 years ago for all the reasons the surveys revealed. As the world community continues to ban together to fight the global war on poverty, terrorism and human rights violations, more nations will be able to improve the standard of living for their citizens and establish forms of government that rule in the best interest of those citizens. Result, the world can't help but become a happier place to live.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  150. jack

    Anyone know where that that DeLoren time machine went? I could use it just about now. Back then you could drive to the lake for the 4th of July weekend, Oh! and have money to tow and fill the boat. Today the boat sits on the trailer and is covered with dust it's been that long since it was affordable to run. Oh! and that drive to the lake? Just a thing of the past. Try a walk to the public pool.

    Yes! I would like to go back 25 years.

    July 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  151. Pamela

    Specifically addressing Americans, 25 years ago the baby boomers were just getting started with their lives and younger people would not have been part of the 1981 "Happiness" survey. My guess is that with all of the government programs set up for the baby boomers, the growth of corporations run by baby boomers (and the wealth amassed by them), their lives are definitely happier now. A lot have made it to the top and pulled up the ladder behind them.

    As far as Generation X and Y, I know we aren't as happy as them.

    Pamela from Germany

    July 2, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  152. Vera - York PA

    I am happier than I was 25 years ago because I no longer see the importance of acquiring more things. My husband and I paid off our mortgage and carry no debt. As a result we are able to save for retirement. We are both healthy and hopefully with age we have become a bit wiser. I try every day to be grateful.

    July 2, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  153. Bruce

    I'm happer than I was 25 years ago?! Jeez, I wish somebody'd told me!

    July 2, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  154. William from Sanford, NC

    25 years ago my job and life was taken away from me by the US government and sent to Japan. Little by little this same globalist philosophy by our federal government has all but destroyed the country. I am very happy now because I know I will live to see the day of a French style revolution in Washington, DC. I sure hope CNN broadcasts it live on tv.

    July 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  155. Paul

    Happier today? About what?

    Well...that I still have a job.

    July 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  156. Scott


    July 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  157. Carl Redder

    Jack I am 52 and simply put we are not.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  158. Joe From New Jersey

    I was happier 25 years ago but I am not sad today. I believe as a society we are spoiled. We have all the technology. We have the gas guzzlers and the latest gadgets that we all "need". When we can;t afford these items and have to make sacrifices.. then people are sad. Our society doesn't spend wisely or take care of their health and proirties and this is why people are sad. A good portion of the sadness is our own fault. The thinking was defferent 25 years ago. I believe families were tighter and proirites were better established. Do you really need that $4000 HDTV when you can't afford the neccesities?

    July 2, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  159. DJK

    We're happier now because we are an ignorant people, and ignorance is bliss. How else can you explain Obama's popularity?

    July 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  160. wendy in kc, mo

    25 years ago i was only 12. but in regards to the country as a whole, yes, i'd say that we were 'happier'. being more aware of what the other countries in this world DONT have should make each and every American happy and proud that we live here. so what if we dont agree with the current/past/future governments? we dont like how much we pay for gas? at least we have some, and a vehicle to put it in. but i thank our military, our government, and God every day that i get to wake up in my own home, drive my own car to my own job, and vote when the time comes. so to answer your question succinctly... we are happier because we live in the USA.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  161. Jose Antonio

    we are not happier, we lie more and better[worse]

    July 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  162. Christopher in TN

    I'm happier because there are only a few more months of "W," a letter that will live in infamy!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  163. ChristianH

    Sure, OTHER countries are happier, and I'm happy for them. But I've looked outside today and seen the world. And any average American citizen can see that the people of this country aren't happy. They aren't happy at all.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  164. Lopaka

    I think if you can remember the '70's and '80's, you weren't really there.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  165. Fred

    Meh, we're fine people. Gas is expensive, that's really about it. I realize that's driving up other things but it's gonna even out. And to the guy who said the 80's weren't good, where were you living? I grew up in the 80's and they seemed OK to me. We're living in the 00s and they don't seem too bad either. Sure, stuff could be better, but it could be a lot worse too! Buck up, America, it's gonna be, OK.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  166. MT, Galveston, Texas

    Happier? I don't think so. 25 years ago I was 40. A fine 40.
    I would, could, should, be happier when I can do some magic mushrooms. I am looking forward to that.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  167. Peter Bennett

    That's simple, we've lowered our standards.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  168. Don Shandy

    we are happier because as a country, we are better than we were 25 years ago. While the U.S. remains far from perfect, it is still the best place in the world to live and raise a family. Just look at this years presidential race., Who would have thought an african american would have a legitimate shot at the presidency 25 years ago. No doubt things are tough for many americans but at least in this country, opportunity remains abundant. For the most part, success still depends on a persons drive and determination. I am pround to be an American!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  169. Matt

    People are happier because everything is better. Almost everything - even gas - is less expensive in real dollar terms. Crime is lower. Pollution is lower. Medical knowldege saves far more lives. And the world is generally a much safer place - give me ignorant islamic terrorist over saavy aggresive communists anyday.

    People who say life today is worse, either didn't live 25 years ago, or don't remember it accurately.

    Matt - Connecticut

    July 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  170. Dan (Kirkland, WA)

    I can't remember back that far. I was 4 so I'd venture to say I was happier then because I didn't have to worry about anything except not wetting my bed.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  171. Bezalel

    25 Years ago we had a great President – Ronald Reagan
    Jimmy Carter was kicked out of office ( Yeh !)
    The first Bush kicked Saddam's Butt
    I was single and Happy.
    Jobs seemed safer
    Both my parents and my favorite cat were still living

    July 2, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  172. Dylan

    The study in no way concluded that on average the individual person was happier now than 25 years ago. The study didn't ask people to compare their happiness now to 1973, it merely found that more people are happy now. I'm not sure exactly how this question actually follows from the study itself.

    PS, I'm a lot happier now than in 73, pre-conception.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:07 pm |
  173. Mary - Warwick, NY

    I am very happy. I always wanted to marry & never did. Now looking back it was the best thing that happend staying single. I do not know too many happily married couples.

    I can do what I want whenever I want and I like the freedom. I have a large family and we all get along great. I make a good living and don't have to worry about finances. I am thankful for that. Especially, since I get to support charitable causes.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:07 pm |
  174. Mike

    To the extent the challenges we currently face are far more serious than they were 25 years ago, I must conclude that the rise in happiness correlates with a rise in ignorance. Too many of us have either stopped paying attention as a means of psycological self defense or irrationaly depend on the media to tell us what and when to think. Perhaps the time has come for me to join the camp of the former.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:07 pm |
  175. Mary Everett

    I can't say I'm happier now. I'm 63 years old and still working full-time. I don't know when I can afford to retire. It seems like saving money is like taking two steps foreward and one step back. I have a nicer husband than I had 25 years ago and my kids are grown and all have turned out well. Somethings are better, but I don't have the hopefull future I had back then.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  176. Jekyl Anhyde

    Only a fool would state that we - people of the US - are happier today than in 1983.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  177. Eve

    Happiness is no debt.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  178. strong

    Who says we're happier now? Some dumb survey? Do not believe surveys !

    I was happier 25 years ago, life was simpler at least. Now, bureaucracy (sp?) is in our faces every step of the way. We are overgoverned and overtaxed more and more.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  179. Suze Raff

    We're happier because most of us "boomers" have come of age and realized we ARE the decisions we make. No longer do we live with unrealistic expectations of some "American Dream". It's useless to wag our fingers in blame at others for our misfortunes. Somethings are better-some are worse...like it or lump it.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  180. Kendra from Nebraska

    I'm not happier than I was 25 years ago....but that probably has something to do with the fact that I was only a week old exactly 25 years ago so I was waited on hand and foot by dozens of people.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  181. Elisabeth, Bloomington, IN

    I am happier that I don't have to hide my sexuality anymore. I am happier that my son has rights as a disabled person. There are a few ways that america has made progress with human rights (and ALOT to go). But am I happier than 25 years ago? No, those days rocked!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  182. Ken from Kansas

    I always assumed it was a combination of better drugs available and more seniors living further into senility.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  183. shakoor

    I'm happy because African Americans like Collin Powell, Oprah Winfrey,Condi Rice, and Barack and Michelle Obama have made big strides in life contributing to history. This makes more people of all races more inclined to follow and succeed in their dreams,any one can break barriers.Oh, my bad, the Bush administration has put a damper on the middle class but we shall overcome in January and become much happier. Shakoor stationed in Germany

    July 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  184. Lauren

    Thanks for the optimistic article Jack! If people really believe that energy/economic problems are deteriorating to a society, then I ask how did we emerge stronger than ever after the Great Depression?

    I appreciate your optimism and believe and wish more people would adopt such an attitude of gratitude for this wonderful time period.

    I am so happy to live in a time where as a 24 year-old unmarried female, not only can I vote, but I can even thrive in the business world and survive on my own! When I get married, it will be because I love the man, not because I need him to put a roof over my head and food on the table. I am thankful that I don't have to worry about pnemonia killing me, or living in a country that would accept mass use of slaves due to their skin color. Yes, I am very glad to be living in a progressive society!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  185. Jeff --- St. Paul MN

    I amused to see how many people are blaming their unhappiness on the current administration.

    I was happy 25 years ago, I'm happy now....

    God bless America

    July 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  186. Matt

    I have always thought it was just the Millennial Generation that I am apart of, but I think I know that I am happier because I am two years into my career and I find that I (and most people my age) are excelling at it and we have a whole life of new adventures to look forward too. I also think it has to do a lot with the upcoming election; change is coming and I think that sprouts new hope.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  187. Karl in CA

    Jack, I'm as happy as if I was in my right mind and if I was in my right mind, I'd know why I'm so happy.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  188. Steve

    Wolf's beard makes me happy.

    Steve in Canada.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  189. Larry Risko

    Jack: Yes, we are in much better shape. Our medical technology breakthrough's are all great, and although food prices are higher, we are still very advanced. Look at the advent of the Computer and software available to us all now- the information highway has exploded. I was renting a small room for 20 yrs. in NYC now (10 yrs ago was able to purchase a co op apt. IN NYC that the value rose up 550% in 10 yrs..so yes, I'm very much happier now!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  190. Marty, Idaho

    I'm sure it makes people in many countries happy to be catching up and passing us in both freedom and wealth. I know how happy I would be if we got ours back.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  191. Glelnn

    If we're truly happier, it's proof that ignorance is bliss. The so-called happy people couldn't be those that are paying over $4 per gallon for gas, whose homes have been foreclosed, who have been duped by politicians, or who believe that the "mission" was accomplished in Iraq several years ago. . . . could they?

    July 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  192. Brian

    We would be higher than 16 on the list if it weren't for democrats to bring us down. Most of you base your happiness on who is president, how very sad is that. Go out and do something with your life instead of waiting for the goverment to take care of you. Wah, wah, wah, you people are depressing!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  193. raj

    we have less money now thats why

    July 2, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  194. Debra F

    They didn't ask me. I'm pretty mad about the state of things in our country right now. Twenty five years ago I was much more optimistic.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  195. chuck

    Who the heck did this study, this is ridiculous. I am not happier, than I was a while back. Neither is anyone else I know....

    July 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  196. Skyler

    Folks, these are scientific data about samples at different time points. It's not about your own happiness changes over time (e.g., happier when I was young vs. old, had young kids vs. grown kids, etc.). A more accurate way to think about this is to imagine an average person twenty five years ago and a similar average person today (e.g., compare people in same situation, age-group, etc. at the two points). In other words, why is a 40 year old American happier now than a 40 year old American was 25 years ago?

    July 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  197. Kyle

    Plain and simple – we have more and better entertainment to distract us from all of life's real problems.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  198. Rodney

    Dear Jack,

    You must have polled those who are affiliated with the oil companies. You surely didn't poll lower and middle income America. If you did, please tell me which state so I can move there.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  199. Patrick

    Well for one the world knows that the Republican mess of this country is about expired! We can't wait...

    July 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  200. Jane H

    Happier 25 years ago. My family was alive (Mom&Dad-brothers),it was a fun time- 34 years old, flew in an aiplane without fear and brought 6 suitcases, and returned with 8!!! Worked as a nurse, and got paid for it and had diginity. Cars where $8,000 and gas was close to a dollar a gallon.....OH MY.....where is the time machine, I'll go back!!!
    Jane from Las Vegas NV

    July 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  201. Kevin

    Jack, it's because we have over 300 channels and High Definition on television.

    Warren, MI

    July 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  202. Joe White

    Because our standard of living is better. The 70's were a hard time – no jobs, low pay, and super-high prices. Prices of many consumer goods are much lower (even without inflation) that they were then. A television back then was $500 and it was a piece of junk. Today, you can get a flat-screen TV for that. Refrigerators, appliances, you name it – all cheaper today, loaded with features, and more reliable.

    Sure, cars cost more, but adjusted for inflation, about the same, but with built-in nav systems, 8-speaker CD players with IPod interfaces, and radial tires, disc brakes, airbags, you-name-it, and easily get 20-30 mpg (as opposed to the 8 mpg beasts we drove in the 1970's).

    Real Estate is more expensive, but if you adjust for inflation, not by much. And yes, we have a mortgage crises, but that is because more people than ever own their own homes and mortgages are available to more people. If you LIVED in the 1970's you'd remember that this was not the case back then.

    Are we in Recession? Yes, but nearly as bad as the "Malaise" infaltionary – recession of the 1970's. It was a bad time.

    Now if you were one of the few privileged union members who could get a union factory job, sure, you made good money doing mindless work, while unemployment topped 10%. Today, there are more high-paying INTERESTING jobs for educated people and unemployment is around 5%. If you are uneducated, well, whose fault is that?

    More opprotunity, better spending power, and better jobs. It is not hard to figure out why we are better off now than then.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  203. mary joe miles

    people are not happier. people are suffering economically and no health insurance. Why is the U.S.A. letting the British monarchy manipulate our financial markets and oil prices. Our own government is doing there best to starve people to death and create more distractions. Our government is robbing the American public of everything they have worked so many years for. WHY!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  204. LawDude

    They are referring to the REST of the world when talking about happiness levels being higher. With the rise of globalization, the rest of the world has benefited greatly because of all the jobs we are giving to them, and then add to that the safety that our massive and expensive military provides to free democracies around the world...no free country has to worry about building an army and sending troops to die cause wait, big old USA is protecting their butts, and giving them jobs at the same time. Wow, great for the rest of the world, I feel real happy for them.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  205. lee

    Much of the music was way better 25 years ago and I am talking of the college radio/underground kind. Even listening to pop back then, which I didn't do much of, it still sounds better now than todays schlock. Kids today and music are just this big ugly mix of all past styles. What exactly happened ? you have people who listen to hip hop or country music sporting mohawks? there is just no divison in a voice; it is all just meaningless and blah.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  206. John CA

    I can understand countries that are becoming industrailized or adapting to democracy are happier. My question is, 25 yeasr ago where were we on the list (currently ranked 16)? Did we decline, stay the same or improve? It is my perception that most Americains are not happier given the current economy and the high rate of corruption with our elected officals.

    July 2, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  207. Tom

    Actually statistically violant crime is down from the 1980's and unemplyment is just now starting to increase to 1980's levels. I never knew why some people were so convinced the the 1980's were this golden era. The 1990's saw a sharp decrease in violant crime and unemployment. Many people were so distracted by Reagan's smiling face on T.V. to realise that under the surface was no bed of roses

    July 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  208. Anonymous

    I am not very optimistic now or about the foreseeable future, whereas I was highly optimistic in 1983-84. I was healthy; my son was born; I had just earned my PhD and was 18 months away from starting as a (now tenured) professor; I implemented a solid plan-invest 15% of gross salary-to retire by 60 (3 years from now).

    Now, the U.S. is in a senseless Iraq war; my honors-grad son (math degree from an Ivy) is abroad as he couldn't find a non-menial job in the U.S.; public higher education is broken, research opportunities are diminishing in earth sciences, and the preparation of incoming college students is declining. And, I won't be retiring until 65 owing to an inflationary U.S. economy undergoing recession and tanked portfolio.

    Times do change.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  209. Edna

    We have not had Jimmy Carter or any other far left liberal in the White House in twenty five years. Should that be a warning?

    July 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  210. Pete

    Simple answer, "ignorance is bliss".

    July 2, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  211. Joe Lundy

    Happier Now than 1983 ? You gotta be kidding ! Ignorance is surely bliss for anyone who is now happy with a civilization teetering on economic collapse, pending global food shortages, environmental devastation and a complete moron at the helm of the country that is supposed to be the guiding light for the rest of the world

    July 2, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  212. Sherri

    Twenty-five years ago I was 22 years old, newly married, and a recent college graduate. At this vantage point, I know those were among the happiest days of my life. Now, I'm 47, have lost many loved ones in recent years to illness and old age, am worried about the economy, am worried about the war, face layoffs and cutbacks at work, am concerned about crime (with a shoot out taking place just blocks from my workplace yesterday), am worried about our local very over crowded schools, am concerned about the safety of our food supply, etc.

    I'm still happily married. I feel proud of the work and volunteer efforts I do. I love my neighbors. I find peace in the beauty of outdoor America...our great national parks and ocean beaches.

    Am I happier than I was 25 years ago? No. However, I do consider myself a happy person, concerned about many things, but always looking for the best in every situation.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  213. Dean

    The world in general may be happier, and i would agree a large part is because of the global economic expansion that has occurred thanks to the fall of communism. The only Americans that I can see that are happier than they were 25 years ago, are perhaps the top 5-10% that have been provided with their ever growing personal wealth, while the remaining poor souls slide ever so imperceptibly toward low, zero or negative real net worth. USA is rapidly becoming a 2- class country, one where personal privacy and freedoms have all but vanished, and big brother tramples and encroaches on our remaning personal rights more and more with every passing day, all in the name of Homeland Security. If we don' t watch out, China, India and Russia will end up calling all the shots 30 years from now. Change is needed!

    July 2, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  214. Stanfo

    Jack, most of your viewer watch your question on SATELLITE T.V., walk over to their PERSONAL COMPUTERS with the INTERNET(my god) to type up their answer about how they are so much worse off. Talk about missing the forest for the trees...

    July 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  215. Kurt

    Well, seeing as how this was a global survey, a lot of this discussion seems to be beside the point. China and India, with 2 billion+ people, made huge economic strides in the last 25 years, and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. (it's probably a similar story in many other developing countries.) Plus, communism has essentially died out in that time, and a large number of people have more political freedom than before. Also, armed conflict around the world has dropped significantly over that time (you can google it).

    Taken together, those things have been a much bigger factor in increasing happiness than any changes to life in America. Cafferty could've been a little more clear about this. But I'd guess we are probably happier in the US too. Crime and the cold war were much bigger concerns in 1983 as I recall.

    San Francisco, CA

    July 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  216. Stephen Hussein Griffith

    I think we are less happy since we are shown on TV on a daily basis how we arent successful unless we look, dress, live, drive, act like people on TV. I dont remember people being so very greedy 25 years ago.
    We need some serious serious change.

    Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  217. Bryan

    Happier then I was in 1983(13 at the time)? Not really. Things didn't seem so bad back then. Yeah we had the cold war, but we all knew the no one would actually push the button. We had respect as a nation, and we were just starting to deal with the job loss. We could afford a house, a car, and take vacations. Food wasn't as high and you had a large variety of shopping venues (gone thanks to wal-mart).

    Now, 25 years later, we no longer produce anything. No one can afford health insurance. Retirement is a thing of the past. Housing is out of reach for many. Financial insitutions tempt people with deceptive plans and intrest rates and entice people to live well beyond what they can - and boy hasn't that caught up with us? We are entangled in a war that never should have been. And we are now the laughing stock of the world, stuck in an economy that is in a "negative feedback loop". We can't even get opposing sides to sit down together and talk...sounds like people are in serious denial to say things are better now and they are happier.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  218. Tim Mac

    25 years ago I was 23 years old, two years out of college and unemployed for over a year due to the Reagan Recession of the early 1980s. There were a total of three "help wanted" ads in the paper each day for weeks at a time: the Army recruiter and two pyramid scams. I wouldn't have a steady job until November of that year and I didn't always have food. By comparison, "happier" isn't all that hard to achieve.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  219. John from Roseville, CA

    You betcha I was happier 25 years ago. Back then I was recently happily married (married for the second time), had my health, a great job, no wars to worry about, a carefree lifestyle, and much to look forward to...or so I thought.

    If this country wasn't in such a mess due to the economy, rediculously high energy costs, unjustified Middle East wars, and a flubbing President that has turned the world against us...then I'd be happy today as well. I have a great family now and am financially stable, but the current conditions outlined above make it difficult to be happier than I was in the early 80's.

    It's all a cycle: go back another 25 years to the late 60's and I was unhappy then as well: Again a flubbing President (Nixon), a war we likewise should not have been in, the shame of two assasinations (Bobby Kennedy & Martin Luther King), returning soldiers from Vietnam that were spit at, and not much hope for the future.

    Maybe...just maybe...I'll be happy in another 25 years if I'm not pushing up Daiseys be then.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  220. Sid Feinberg

    We are not happier than 25 years ago.

    We currently have a Real Estate market that has imploded, a decliing stock market, credit problems, high gas costs as well as many others. Society is on the vege of collapsing in the US, but most people care about who was on Ameican Idol last night. Most kids just see life as a rap video, or how can I get high today and pleasuerd tonight. They awake the next morning and do the same thing.

    The president ignores the obvious problems, one candidate may see them while the other thinks the cure for evrything is to tax it or socialize it. Can you imagine the implosion that will happen if he wins? Talk about a stock market collapse. And what about the guaranteed let down when all these people with bind faith think that "change" means that they will get a new high paying job, a car with spinning wheels, and a giant lcd tv? Reality will be a shocker.

    The middle class is getting destroyed. Many people probably regret having children now as the kids have a tough road ahead for them in what was the best country in the world.

    The world is not happier now, but most people are too stupid to even understand it

    July 2, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  221. BoomerSooner

    Karen in Fairfax, CA:

    25 years ago I, too, was in Gillette, WY working in the oil/gas business, dancing the two-step, raising Hell and having a great time! Those were the days, my friend!

    Boomer in Oklahoma

    July 2, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  222. FlyShopRob

    That report would be from Bush's Presidental Library committee, right?

    In 1983 George H. Bush was a little known civil servant trying to keep his loser kids out of jail. In 2008... say, nothing has changed there!

    In 1983 the United States government did not give tax credits to companies that sent their jobs overseas. In 2008: India has the greatest increase in high-technology education in the world; my hunting boots were made in VietNam; and you actually have to search to find anything "Made in the USA." Guess why?

    In1983 we were hopeful and could see better times at the end of the tunnel. In 2008, we have come to realize that we have been letting the village idiot drive the economic bus for 8-years and that light he keeps telling us about is actually a train!

    In 1983 every school kid in America could tell you how many US military men died in combat that year. In 2008, I will bet you five-bucks that the President of the United States can't tell you the same answer without leaning over to an aide, and then if the information is more than five-minutes old, it is probably wrong.

    In 1983 we had Ronnie and everyone felt warm and safe, even if we weren't. In 2008 we have George and we're all waiting for him to spill coffee on "the Button" and announce, "Get under your desks, children, we're going to finish that dang story about the goat, once and for all!"

    July 2, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  223. Marcus

    Happy? I'm not sure you can call today's news happy. Gas is through the roof, jobs are being lost (exported), US Automakers are on their knees (you can thank the Saudi's and oil speculators), we have a crazy president that has caused thousands of needless deaths by his arrogance and greed, a dishonest media, a consumer base that gets more stupid and self absorbed with every passing year, the crumbling of the nuclear family (see self absorbed comment), corporations that evade taxes and politicians that pass those taxes down to us working class, more and more food contamination outbreaks (thank George for the focus on murder instead of the health of people), and corporate and investor greed. Newsflash! we are going downhill fast....

    July 2, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  224. OSUAce

    Let's face it, in 1983 unemployment was at 9.6% and today it hovers around 5.5%. Twenty-five years ago mortgage interest rates were around 13.40% compared to around 6% today.

    HIV/AIDS was making headline news as a new disease with no cure; while still no cure exists today, life expectancy is no longer measured in days and months it’s now measured in years.

    Email, the Internet and the fax machine all satisfy our need, to know and our need to know now; none of which existed 25 years ago…Microwave ovens brought people RTE meals with a turn of a dial and a push of a button (remember the first ones were not digital).

    Yeah, I’d agree that over-all most would consider themselves happier today than yesterday. What will tomorrow bring?

    July 2, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  225. James

    Well, personally I am indifferent because I believe there is an end to this crap. 25 years ago this month, I was 6 and had a Pac-Man birthday cake, my parents were still married and we had a home. Now, my parents are split, the house is gone, I can't afford a home here in CA. even though I have a good job, my dad was laid off and can't find a job and can't afford to be retired. I was definitely happier a mere 5 years ago when I got my first real job, gas was a fair price and my cars all got 8 MPG. Now I bike to work. It's ok, but I'd rather be driving my 60's Muscle cars every day like I was back then.

    I know who is truely happier: Big Oil!

    Ask me again in 2 years to see how the next president handles the fragile, broken shards of America. I hope he can piece it back together.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  226. Rob

    The people are not happier, they are simply being fed more false data. ALL data from Liarland(DC) is fake and it is faked to benefit corporate america who is more in control than the government. Check your dictionary and you'll see this is fascism.

    July 2, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  227. ga hammer

    If Bush hadn't ruined our economy, got us into a needless war in Iraq, and had put Americans first instead of last, especially the middle class, 25 years ago wouldn't look so good. Now McCain wants to take up where Bush leaves off. I can't see where this country has anything to look forward to, other than getting rid of Bush. 60 thousand jobs lost in the month of June alone.

    July 2, 2008 at 8:04 pm |
  228. Jeff

    25 years ago I wasn't around, so life is definitely something to be happy about. I am ecstatic to be an American and to cast my first ballot in November while so many others around the world have no influence on their government. I have never invested so much in my future–I am a college student–enough said. However, as a realist and capitalist, I MUST make myself competitive among the 6 billion people around the world to survive and give much more to live American dream. Happiness needs to be redefined not as the state economic and/or political affairs but as life, relationships and attitude.

    July 2, 2008 at 8:20 pm |