Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Political Ideology and Happiness

I’ve been following a discussion by Steve Greene on his blog about political ideologies and happiness. The discussion started with a post on Arthur Brooks’ op-ed piece that alleged that conservatives are happier than liberals. Furthermore, the extremes in ideology (extremely conservative and extremely liberal) are happier than ideological moderates. Brooks has also posted a five part series on politics and happiness here. The one in which I am most interested is part 4. This chart from the 2004 General Social Survey is especially interesting:

Now, look at this chart from the 2010 General Social Survey:

What strikes me is that the percentage of extremely liberals that are very happy is approximately the same as the percentage of extremely conservatives that are extremely happy. Furthermore, the extremes in ideology are not happier than those who are liberal or conservative. This chart is from Jay Livingston’s blog about Brooks’ op-ed here

So what’s the point? I agree with Steve Greene, who argues that happiness is associated with whether one thinks that life is fair or not. However, it seems to me that if people who share your ideology are in control of government, you’re more likely to be happy or very happy. Thus, since President Obama’s election and the Democrats’ success in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, things didn’t look so rosy for conservatives, especially those who are extremely conservative. What do you think?

You might also want to check out a wonderful article by Marie Burns here.