Happiness Index: One Third of Americans Very Happy, Men’s Happiness Lowers

A third of Americans (33 percent) are happy, reveals the latest Happiness Index from Harris Poll. The share of happy Americans is down two percent from the results in 2009 and 2008, when the portion of very happy Americans was 35 percent.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive from May 9-16 with the participation of 2,184 American adults. The poll uses timeless and standard questions to assess the overall level of happiness in the US each year.

The participants were asked if they disagreed or agreed with a series of positive and negative statements about their relationships with friends, their health concerns, their financial situation, hobbies and activities, and various other aspects of their life.

The survey also revealed that women are happier than men – 31 percent of the men said they were very happy, down one percent from last year, and 3 percent from 2009, while 36 percent of women said they were very happy, up one percent from last year.

Racial groups show some significant differences. White Americans are the least happy, with only 32 percent saying they were very happy, while 44 percent of African Americans said they were very happy, up from 40 percent last year. Latin Americans come in second according to happiness levels, with 35 percent of the group saying they were very happy, down four percent from last year.

Not surprisingly, the happiest Americans are those from households with income of at least 100,000 dollars per year. The surprise came when Harris Interactive identified the least happy group – households making 75,000-99,999 dollars per year. In this group, only 29 percent of the respondents said they were very happy.


Zoosk Survey Reveals Opinions of Singles on Taboo Conversation Topics and Splitting Checks

More than 4,500 US members of the Zoosk dating community gathered their thoughts in the latest Zoosk survey, revealing the “trends” of the US dating world during the summer of 2011.

Summer months will see an increase in dating, as 51 percent of the singles polled by Zoosk in the US said that they planned to boost up their dating during summer. They also said that outdoor dates are more fun than indoor ones, and they identified some of the worst first-date conversation topics, among other things.

Co-CEO and co-founder of Zoosk, Alex Mehr, said that the survey aims to help singles with their selection of dating options.

The Zoosk survey revealed that the worst conversation topic on a first date was talking about the ex. Particularly men are appalled by the idea of having to hear about the exes of their dates, with 71 percent saying that this topic would be a buzz-killer. In a proportion of 67 percent, women agree that this is the worst topic. Although not as bad as talking about the ex, personal health issues are also frowned upon, with 19 percent of the survey participants saying that they don’t want to hear about medical issues of their date. Other bad topics are politics and religion, pointed out by 9 percent and 6 percent of poll participants, respectively.

A thorny subject on a first date is paying the check. Men will find that women are quite open to splitting the check. When asked, only 18 percent of the men said that the check should be split compared to 35 percent of women. Furthermore, only 64 percent of women think that the guy should pay, while 81 percent of men thought it was their duty. There is also a small group of 1 percent on each side that thinks women should pay the check on the first date.

Another useful finding for the singles that plan on dating this summer is that men are quicker to judge how well a first date is going. Male participants said that they usually made up their mind within the first hour, some even after 15 minutes (29 percent). Women usually decide by the end of the date. However, even if the date is not going as expected, men are more likely to suck it up and see it through in the hope that it would get better (93 percent compared to 85 percent of women). The exceptions are New York men and Tampa women, who would use the excuse of not feeling well to cut short a bad date.


Survey: Many Americans Believe Father’s Day Isn’t Getting the Attention It Should

A large portion of both men and women think that Father’s Day is not getting the attention it should, reveals a recent survey conducted by the independent research company Toluna on behalf of Buy.com.

The difference between the two groups is not too high, a mere 4 percent. Specifically, 36 percent of the surveyed women agreed that Father’s Day was under appreciated, while, in the men’s group, 40 percent had the same opinion.

The survey was conducted through Toluna’s online omnibus on May 18, with the participation of 1,035 adults from the US, aged 18 or older.

Another finding of the survey was that 41 percent of fathers would like to get a new car as a Father’s Day present, if money were not a problem. Fifteen percent of the participating fathers said they would like a yacht or a boat.

Realistically speaking, 20 percent of fathers said they wanted more time with their families, 12 percent opted for computer, netbooks or laptops, and 11 percent – for sports items.

In USA, UK and Canada, Father’s Day will be celebrated on June 19 this year. Father’s Day has been an official holiday since 1966, and it is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. New Zealand and Australia celebrate fathers on the first Sunday in September.

Buy.com is a leading online retail store, focusing on providing products at affordable prices. The store is owned by Tokio-based Internet company Rakuten. Buy.com has it’s headquarter in Aliso Viejo, California. The two companies combined, distribute more than 70 million from approximately 35,000 producers worldwide.


Racial and Ethnic Lines Blurred by Common Beliefs in Economic Opportunity

Allstate CorporationA new poll by the National Journal and the Allstate Corporation examines the views of Americans on economic opportunities during a time of intense demographic transformation.

The main revelation of the poll is that people of all races and ethnic backgrounds share similar views on the keys to success in the current economic climate. The divergences appear in the various groups’ views on the role of the government, the prospects of future generations, the consequences of changes to the country’s demographics.

According to the results of the poll, 55 percent of the respondents said that, over the years, the country has improved its capacity to create equal opportunities across racial and ethnic lines. Irrespective of ethnic and racial background, most Americans said they though education was the most important factor for a successful career, followed by the country’s economic condition and personal skills. Only two percent of those who participated in the poll said that ethnic and racial backgrounds were relevant to the chances of success.

Another finding of the poll was that people from all backgrounds believed that the differences between the poor and the rich were the most prominent cause for divergent opinions on important issues.

Major differences of opinion were revealed by the poll when it came to the government’s role, future generation prospects and the effects of demographic change.

More than 42 percent of the whites said that the economic environment was affected negatively by the government, while this opinion was shared by only 16 percent of Asians, 17 percent of African-Americans, and 25 percent of Hispanics. Only 33 percent of Americans said that children will have better opportunities. The most optimistic were Hispanics – 56 percent, and African-Americans – 57 percent, while Asians and whites were less optimistic (37 and 24 percent, respectively.)

The poll looks at the full spectrum of ethnics and racial groups in the US in the context of projections indicating that, by 2042, the minority-majority ratios will be inverted.

2010 Census Reveals US Population is Growing Old

US Census Bureau LogoThe latest Census brief for 2010 released by the US Census Bureau, also revealed that the median age of Americans today is 37.2, meaning that half the population in the United States is younger than 37.2, and the other half older.

Seven US states have been found to have a median age of 40. The brief also revealed that the male population has increased 9.9 percent faster than the female population, which grew by 9.5 percent. The population is divided into 50.8 percent female and 49.2 male.

Over the past decade, the 45-64 years old population, which now makes up for 26.4 percent of the total, increased by 31.5 percent, reaching 81.5 million. The increase comes primarily from the aging of baby boomers. The next age group, of 65 years-old or older, has also increased at a faster pace than younger categories, reaching 40.3 million at a growth rate of 15.1 percent. This age group accounts for 13 percent of the US population.

The age group 18-44 had the slowest growth rate, of only 0.6 percent, and it now makes up 36.5 percent of the total, with 112.8 million.

The youngest generation, of 18 year-olds and younger, also had a slow growth rate of 2.6 percent. They now count 74.2 million, or 24 percent of the total US population.

From 2000 to 2010, the median age of the US population increased by 1.9 years, from 35.3 to 37.2 years. The increase in media age was smaller than in the previous decade, when the median age grew by 2.4 years.


Choice of Word Matters: Lady Gaga Apologizes for the Casual Use of the Word “Retarded”

In one of her recent interviews, namely with the NME music magazine, Lady Gaga, in a furious reply to her accusers, called the plagiarism claims against her “retarded”.

Being an advocate for rights of various disadvantaged groups, Lady Gaga has apologized afterwards, and she admitted that the use of the word puts a stain on the social issues she advocates for frequently.

She explained that her life’s work is to push for acceptance through music, and she explained through the blog of Perez Hamilton that the word was used in a “furiously unintentional” manner.

Lady Gaga’s casual use of the word reveals the ease with which many other people use it. While it is nearly impossible to measure the large-scale frequency of its use, TheSocialChallenge.org offers those who feel offended by the use of the word the possibility to ask the “offenders” to reconsider the words they use via a live stream on Twitter.

The project managed to demonstrate that those who use the word “retard” casually are highly likely to apologize if confronted. According to one of TheSocialChallenge.org’s advocates, Holly Roos, who also has two children suffering from the Fragile-X syndrome, hundreds of tweeters have apologized over the past month for their poor choice of words and pledged to be more considerate in the future.

Holly Roos added that she was happy to see a prominent personality like Lady Gaga reconsider her choice of words.

Lady Gaga’s use of the word “retarded” was all the more shocking as she is herself an advocate for various causes. Recently, she attended an event organized by the Best Buddies Association, a nonprofit group for those affected by a variety of development-impairing syndromes.


Survey: Majority of US Citizens in Favor of Gay and Lesbian Marriage

us populationA new poll from ABC News and Washington Post reveals that 53 percent of the US population supports the right of gay and lesbian couples to get married. The results are in favor of marriage between lesbian and gay couples for the third time in a row, as two other national polls conducted in August last year had similar results.

Furthermore, several other national polls have showed support for gay and lesbian rights, suggesting that, in the past year and a half, the public opinion shifted and that it continues to change steadily.

A survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation and CNN in August 2010 revealed that 52 percent of Americans believed that same-sex couples had the constitutional right to get married, as well, and to have their marriage legally recognized. A second poll, conducted in the same period by National Constitution Center and the Associated Press, came up with the same results.

According to Chad Griffin, president of the Board of American Foundation for Equal Rights, the trend is clear: Americans acknowledge that all citizens should enjoy equal rights, including the right to get married. The polls reveal that Americans of all political affiliations agree with the idea that governments should not interfere in the relationships of adults who are in a loving relationship. Chad Griffin added that it would be un-American if governments would continue to deny lesbian and gay couples the freedom to enjoy their constitutional right to get married.

The foundation’s legal team won a case aimed at overturning the ban on gay and lesbian marriages in California in August 2010, when the US District Court sided with those fighting for the rights of same-sex couples. The court’s decision was quickly appealed last year, and the foundation is now waiting for a ruling from the Ninth Circuit.

Vouchers For the Housing of Homeless Veterans Reduced by 10,000 in 2011

homeless veteranIn February, the US House of Representatives passed a modification to the law that regulates the vouchers for permanent supporting housing of homeless veterans (H.R. 1). According to the new provisions, if they pass in the Senate, the number of housing vouchers for homeless veterans will be reduced by approximately 10,000, reducing the cost of the program by some 75 million dollars in 2011.

The vouchers are the result of cooperation between the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development. They are aimed at helping veterans with severe disabilities, including mental illness, to find and maintain a place to live. The Veterans Affairs department assists veterans with health care services and case management. The aim of the program is to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

Housing and Urban Development secretary, Shaun Donovan, in a statement to the US Senate, said that in order to eliminate chronic lack of housing in the ranks of veterans the government would need to award some 60,000 vouchers. Since 2008, the department was granted and has managed to award approximately 30,000 vouchers.

In a House of Representatives hearing, Republican Jeff Miller said that, according to his information, from a total of 30,000 authorized vouchers approximately 11,000 were not used. His statement was contradicted by representatives of the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development departments. They said that some 29,000 vouchers were awarded and that the veterans who received them have either found are searching for a place to live. They underscored the fact that some 7,000 veterans who have been awarded housing vouchers are in the last phase of housing selection. Furthermore, they said that it can take approximately four months between case referral and housing placement. Other representatives from the department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed the high rate of utilization for the housing vouchers.

A coalition representing veteran interests calls for the issuance of 10,000 additional vouchers, thus pushing the total to 40,000 vouchers per year. As such, the measure to reduce the number of vouchers in 2011 could cripple the progress of the program.

Americans Need to Improve Their Mobile Etiquette

phone etiquetteA recent survey sponsored by Intel Corporation and conducted by Ipsos revealed that US users of mobile devices have considerable gaps in etiquette when they use their devices publicly.

Technological advancements nowadays have continued to progress and improve into what we now recognize as daily items, which we use on a regular basis. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and notebooks, to name a few, are just some of these innovative products which have redefined mobility as we know it, giving rise to communication and Internet access in a more portable, functional and accessible way.

The survey sponsored by Intel Corporation, the brains behind some of the most widely used processors and support technologies used in mobile devices today, aimed to reveal the etiquette practices of people in the US. The survey revealed that 75 percent of Americans find bad mobile etiquette to be worsening in today’s society compared to last year. The trend seems to derive from at least 5 mobile etiquette offences per day. Furthermore, 92 percent of the Americans who participated in the survey said that they had witnessed misuse of mobile technology.

According to data from Pew Internet & American Life Project, 85 percent of Americans own a cell phone and 52 percent own a laptop computer. Only some 4 percent own a tablet. Just 9 percent of the participants in the survey do not use the mobile device covered in the survey. Due to the apparent escalation in the technological trend, “public displays of technology” and disregard for mobile etiquette has also escalated.

Etiquette expert Emily Post stresses that etiquette should still be observed whether communication is in-person or through a mobile device. Some tips she gave in practicing good mobile etiquette are: not to imitate other people’s bad behaviour, to be present and to give full attention to whom you are with when you are on a meeting or a date, to think about your actions and how they might impact others before doing them, to set ground rules, and to keep some places such as restrooms private.