Fewer Americans Consider Themselves 'Thriving'

The number of Americans who consider themselves "thriving" has reached a near-record low, according to Gallup's Life Evaluation Index.

Some 52.1% of Americans evaluated their lives well enough to be considered "thriving" in the fourth quarter of 2023, the survey reveals.

The percentage was only lower in the Great Recession era in 2008-2009 (50.2%) and the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (50.1%).

Since 2008, those periods have been the only times when the percentage of people thriving was below 52.8% for an entire year or more. Over 55% of Americans reported thriving between 2015 and 2019 and in 2021.

The index classifies Americans as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a scale from zero to 10.

Those who rate their current life a seven or higher and their anticipated life in five years an eight or higher are classified as thriving.

They report significantly fewer health problems, as well as less worry, stress, sadness, and anger. They experience more happiness and enjoyment, along with interest and respect.

Democrats' thriving rate increased significantly between the second half of 2020 and 2021 and was 55.7% in 2023. Meanwhile, the number of Republicans thriving has been on the decline since the first half of 2021, with 51.7% evaluating their lives well last year.

The authors note that a decline in the number of people thriving occurs along with worsening mental and physical health. In 2022, the number of people with obesity reached a record high of 39.9%, while 13.6% of respondents reported being diagnosed with diabetes, according to an earlier Gallup survey.

The high inflation, record-low views of the housing market, and increasing personal safety fears may have also contributed to a drop in people thriving.

More people are suffering

In the last quarter, 4.3% of Americans reported suffering, meaning that their rating for their current life situation is four and below, and they have negative views of the next five years.

People classified as "suffering" often report lacking the basics of food and shelter and are more likely to experience physical pain and a lot of stress. Additionally, they have poorer access to health insurance and care despite a high disease burden.

The percentage of people suffering was only higher in 2022 when the inflation reached a 40-year high and Russia invaded Ukraine, and last year when the Israel-Hamas war erupted in Gaza.

Daily stress and worry remained at typical levels last quarter, with 40% of respondents reporting worry and 45% reporting stress "a lot of the day yesterday."

The drop in the number of thriving Americans emphasizes the need to tackle both mental and physical health crises.

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