Arthur Brooks probably made many readers of the New York Times even unhappier than they already are with his op-ed there yesterday headlined "Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals." The piece is full of interesting information about conservatives reporting they are happier than their liberal counterparts. He says that many conservatives like to chalk it up to differences in marriage and religion.
Some 53 percent of conservatives are married compared to only 33 percent of liberals and if two people are otherwise demographically the same, the married person is 18 percentage points more likely to report happiness.
Conservatives who practice their religion outnumber liberals nearly four to one and 43 percent of religious participants say they're very happy about their lives compared to 23 percent of secularists.
Whether religion and marriage should make people happy is a question you have to answer for yourself. But consider this: Fifty-two percent of married, religious, politically conservative people (with kids) are very happy — versus only 14 percent of single, secular, liberal people without kids.
Liberals, he says, prefer the explanation that conservatives are ignorant of inequality and the problems it causes. He pooh-poohs that explanation.
But there's one thing conservatives and liberals have in common. Both are happier than political moderates:
What explains this odd pattern? One possibility is that extremists have the whole world figured out, and sorted into good guys and bad guys. They have the security of knowing what’s wrong, and whom to fight. They are the happy warriors.
Whatever the explanation, the implications are striking. The Occupy Wall Street protesters may have looked like a miserable mess. In truth, they were probably happier than the moderates making fun of them from the offices above. And none, it seems, are happier than the Tea Partiers, many of whom cling to guns and faith with great tenacity. Which some moderately liberal readers of this newspaper might find quite depressing.
Actually, the whole time I was reading about a failed Occupy Wall Street protest this weekend at a fundraiser the Kochs held for Romney, I could hear the Benny Hill music playing in my head.
Anyway, why do you think conservatives are happier?