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Young adults who are single and not religious are the most unhappy in America after COVID-19, a report says


Young adults who are single and not religious are the most unhappy in America after COVID-19, a report says

A new study from the Institute of Family Studies suggests that young adults under 35 who are single and not religious report the highest levels of unhappiness since the COVID-19 pandemic and since 1972, when the General Social Survey started measuring happiness levels among Americans.

Even though the GSS shows that people of all ages are generally less happy, it also shows that in 2021, a record number of Americans will say they are “not too happy.”

“From 1972 to 2018, no more than 18% of Americans over the age of 35 said they were “not too happy,” and no more than 16% of Americans under the age of 35 said the same thing. Lyman Stone, a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, wrote that people over 35 and under 35 had the same level of unhappiness in every year that it was measured. “But by 2021, the number of unhappy people in both groups shot up by a lot—to 22% for those over 35 and a huge 30% for those under 35.”

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Stone said that “the unusually sharp increase for those under 35 points to a unique burden of unhappiness among young adults over the last few years” when talking about the rise in the number of people who say they are “not too happy.”

“Young adults in the U.S. have become very negative about the world and their own lives. “To figure out why young Americans are so much less happy than they used to be, you need to know which groups are the most unhappy,” he said.

The study also found that only about 6% of young adults who were married said they were “not too happy,” while 16% of young adults who were not married said the same.

The report also said that religion has an effect on happiness.

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Stone noticed that people who went to religious services at least twice a month were only 4% less happy than they were before. This was the smallest increase of any group studied in the study. Less-religious people were 15% less happy than those who went to religious services more often.

“This difference was very statistically important, which suggests that being part of a religious community may be a good way to protect yourself from bad things that happen in life,” Stone said.

Other things that make people unhappy, but aren’t always statistically important, are sex, race, and political affiliation.

“Some demographic factors did matter more. Men’s unhappiness went up 18%, while women’s only went up by 12%. Unhappiness went up by about 17 percent among non-Hispanic whites, but only about 12 percent among people of color. But these differences don’t mean much in terms of statistics; they could have been caused by random noise, Stone said.

“Marriage and religious attendance are the only things that seem to protect against the post-COVID unhappiness spike,” he said. “Young adults who are married and go to church are much happier than other young adults. Some of this may be the result of selection bias, but it may also be the result of deeper social ties that give people the material and mental resources they need to deal with life’s challenges.

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The study found that the number of married people under 35 who go to church has gone down from 24% in 1972 to 7% in 2021. Stone says that because of this, “more and more young adults are left to deal with life’s problems alone.”

“One possible result of this change, as we have seen these last few years, is that more young people lack the vital support of a spouse and a religious community, and thus new forms of adversity can rapidly lead to astonishingly severe levels of unhappiness,” Stone concludes.


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