In February, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves throughout the world. Within that time frame, the mental and emotional well-being of the U.S. population plummeted, losing three or more percentage points per week on the CivicScience Well-Being Index. Americans reported heightened feelings of fear, sadness, stress, and worry, with those aged 35 and older being the most affected. 

Additional survey data from CivicScience revealed that over 90% of U.S. adults were following news coverage of the war and the majority were worried by the threats that it posed, including to their personal finances. 

Where does well-being stand now, as we enter month three of the war and consumers continue to contend with spiked gas prices and inflation? 

A week-by-week index reading shows that well-being has since rebounded to 57%, after sliding even lower from the time of our last report and then bottoming out at 50% by the second week of March. 

Regional Psychographics 

Well-being tends to differ across different groups, including income levels and gender, for example. It also varies when looking through a regional lens. Typically, well-being is higher in the West and Midwest regions of the U.S. However, recent weekly data show that people in the Northeast and South are slightly more likely to feel a greater sense of well-being compared to the West and Midwest regions, with an average score of 57%.

The West/Midwest and Northeast/South regions tend to follow along similar trend lines. What could account for the recent upswing in Northeast/South regions? For one, the arrival of spring and warmer weather may be helping to boost moods in the Northeast and some more northernly areas of the South.

In Retrospect

Looking at a month-over-month reading shows that the low point in February/March represents the lowest point seen on the index since early January of 2021, suggesting how strongly the onset of war rocked the collective psyche. Previous big swings in well-being occurred around COVID surges during the winter holidays of 2020 and late summer of last year (with the Delta variant). 

The current rebound in well-being could imply that, at least for the time being, people are recovering from the initial shock of the war and coping with the new reality, similar to the earlier days of the pandemic. For some, that may mean adjusting the amount and types of news they consume in order to lessen the impact on mental health. 

Looking Ahead 

Although outlook differs by region, as a nation, well-being appears to be trending upward at the moment, despite other concerns in addition to (or related to) the war in Ukraine, such as fuel and energy costs. Since well-being closely relates to spending (among other consumer behaviors) – well being increases along with spending – the rebound may be a positive indication for economic outlook. 

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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.