In the United States, 2022 has been witness to the start of the war in Ukraine, an onslaught of mass shootings, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and rising gas prices and inflation. CivicScience has regularly tracked how these and other societal changes have impacted the emotional well-being among Americans through the CivicScience Well-Being Index. 

The overall well-being of U.S. adults declined noticeably in February and May of this year, coinciding with the start of the war in Ukraine and mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, and in Uvalde, TX, respectively. CivicScience recently reported that well-being reached some consistency in July and summer lows have steadily remained higher than lows felt during the first half of the year. Well-being continued on this path in September, falling slightly the first half of the month but rebounding once again to 57%.

Upon further examination, tracking the well-being of U.S. adults has made one thing clear: White Americans and Black Americans experience different highs and lows.

From mid-February to mid-March, the index reported a drop in well-being among both White and Black U.S. adults. However, White Americans’ well-being decreased by 8.6 points, whereas well-being in Black Americans decreased by 6 points (for weeks beginning 2/13-3/06). This was a predictable decrease as it aligns with the start of the war in Ukraine, as well as a stressful increase in gas prices and mid-pandemic inflation, all topics frequently covered at the average American office’s water cooler in 2022. 

When comparing the well-being of White and Black adults in the U.S. throughout 2022, the most notable difference occurred from July-August. White Americans’ well-being rose from the week of July 17 to August 14 by .9 of a point, whereas Black Americans’ well-being experienced a sharp decline by 7.9 points. During this time the U.S. experienced a rise in monkeypox cases, increasing temperatures, more mass shootings, a water crisis in Texas, and flooding in Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia.

September, so far, is also showing opposite swings in White and Black U.S adults’ well-being. Black Americans’ well-being increased by 2.1 points during the week of September 4th rising from 53.4% to 55.3%, whereas White Americans’ well-being decreased that week, dropping from 57.2% to 55.6%. During the second week of September, White Americans’ well-being rose from 55.6% to 56.9%, while Black Americans’ well-being dropped from 55.3% to 52.9%.

While we can’t pinpoint one direct cause for these differences, back-to-school stressors, the disproportionate impact of inflation, and the racial wealth gap between White and Black Americans may be intersectional factors. Back-to-school spending affects most families during most years, but has been further impacted this year by inflation and supply chain issues.

To track key differences in the well-being of White and Black Americans, be sure to check back next month.

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.