CivicScience consistently collects data regarding how societal shifts and current events affect the emotional state of Americans through the Well-Being Index. Despite COVID-19 and its continued consequences, the U.S. reopened in 2022 and sharp decreases in well-being have been less obvious to decipher.

Overall, well-being this year has remained between 55% and 56.5%, except for a predictable decrease and boomerang increase between February and April. During this time, the war in Ukraine and inflation impacted Americans concurrently, upending everyday routines. At least, that has been the case with the collective well-being of U.S. adults.

This month, the state of well-being experienced the first decline since the spring, dropping from 56.3% in September to 56.1% in October. This could be connected to economic outlook, as economic sentiment declined significantly during the first half of October, but then edged upward during the second half of the month.

A closer look at well-being by race shows an upswing in well-being in Black adults from 54.4% in September to 56.3% in October. This increase could be the result of adapting to back-to-school stressors or perhaps the promise of student loan relief, as payback of student loans is a longer road for Black Americans due to income inequality and a higher default rate for Black student borrowers.

Hispanic adults also experienced a slight increase from September to October (53% to 53.1%), while well-being among White adults decreased (56.4% to 56%). Well-being among Hispanics in the U.S. has steadily been lower than both White and Black adults for the duration of 2022.

The index measures well-being through singular attributes about emotions, including how strongly respondents report feelings of sadness, happiness, stress, worry, fear, and excitement. Data indicate that this month’s slight decline in well-being is largely being driven by an increase in fear (up 1.2 points) and a slight decrease in happiness (down .4 points), as shown in the graph below.

However, in comparison to recent years, 2022 emotions have found some balance. For example, during the first major spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., fear skyrocketed from 23.8% in February to 43.4% in April of 2020. While fear has still not returned to pre-pandemic lows, it has otherwise stayed below that peak. Stress, worry, and sadness also saw similar returns to less fluctuation.

Positive emotions have been affected similarly. From February to April of 2020, happiness dropped from 67% to 49.5% and has never fully recovered. However, happiness increased to a yearly average of 61.6% in 2021 and has remained generally above 60% throughout 2022.

To track differences in emotional well-being, check back next month. And if you want to better understand the impact of well-being on consumer choices, contact us for a demo.

What is the CivicScience Well-Being Index? 

Everything affects everything – that includes how a person feels at any given moment in time. The CivicScience Well-Being Index rapidly captures the collective emotional well-being of the population on a daily basis by asking thousands of survey respondents to report on how strongly they feel different emotions. Through living indexes like the Well-Being Index, CivicScience helps businesses and organizations better understand what’s driving consumer choices, empowering them with the data-driven insight needed to navigate our rapidly changing times.