The new Survey of Faith and Family in America conducted for the PBS show Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly asked a national sample of Americans whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “Married people are generally happier than unmarried people.” 30% of married parents strongly agreed, while 35% of single parents strongly disagreed. It is not surprising that married people would think married people, as a group, are better off, and unmarried people would not.
The survey itself contains a reality check, though. The respondents were also asked to rate how happy they were themselves. The analysts then compared these self-reports of happiness for the married parents and the single parents. The result:
The married were well over twice as likely to report themselves “completely happy” as the singles, 29% to 11%.
Nearly half of the marrieds (46%), but only a third of the singles (32%), called themselves “very happy.”
Nearly half the singles (44%) chose the next level down, only “fairly happy” to describe themselves.
Only one percent of the marrieds would even call themselves neither happy nor unhappy, and none of them said they were unhappy. By contrast, over ten times that many singles (11%) called themselves less than definitely happy.
While singles don’t want to believe that married people are happier, their own reports of their feelings shows that the marrieds are really happier – and know it.