Does it surprise you that most New Jerseyans are happy? Forget the high cost of living, high property taxes, a juddering transit system and all the other daily strains. Apparently, more than 80 percent live contented lives. Sixty percent say they’re “pretty happy” and another 21 percent are in the “very happy” camp. The glad tidings are from a joint Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University poll. On the dour side, 16 percent of respondents describe themselves as “not too happy” and a mere 3 percent admit to being “not happy at all.” The results, say the pollsters, are consistent with national polling.
While men and women in the Garden State are equally content, according to the poll, things like race, education, and income can significantly affect that contentment. White residents (23 percent “very,” 64 percent “pretty”) express greater happiness than either black residents (17 percent “very,” 62 percent “pretty”) or Hispanic residents (21 percent “very,” 50 percent “pretty”). Those in households making under $50,000 annually are about half as likely as those in households making $150,000 or more to say they are “very happy” (14 percent versus 31 percent). Three in 10 residents in the lowest income bracket say they are not happy (26 percent “not too happy,” 4 percent “not at all”), compared to less than one in five making between $50,000 and $100,000 and about one in ten making $100,000 or more.
“Happiness means different things to different people. But when the cost of living keeps going up, it’s not a surprise to see happiness appear elusive to those who are likely struggling the most to afford the basics,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of government at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll. “Even if money can’t directly buy happiness, it certainly helps.”