Money can’t buy happiness, according to the old saying, but being married might help. Married adults report being much happier than folks with any other relationship status, according to a new Gallup Poll.
From 2009 to 2023, more than 2.5-million U.S. adults were asked how they would rate their life on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
They were also asked to predict what their happiness level would be five years later.
The survey notes that to be considered thriving, a participant had to rank their current life as a seven or higher and their anticipated future had to be an eight or higher.
During the survey period, married people consistently rated their happiness levels higher than unmarried participants, and it was a significant amount, ranging from 12% to 24%, depending on the year.
Researchers say the gap was the same, even after adjusting for factors like age, race, ethnicity, gender and education.
Education is known to be a solid predictor of happiness, but the results show that married people who didn’t go to high school still rate their lives as thriving more than those who are unmarried with a graduate degree.
“Any way you analyze those data, we see a fairly large and notable advantage to being married in terms of how people evaluate their life,” explains poll author Jonathan Rothwell, principal economist at Gallup. He notes that it’s tough to say if marriage is the reason for the higher levels of happiness, it could just be that those who have qualities that lead to more consistent happiness are also the type to get married. Rothwell concludes, “I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a point in social science where we can say whether or not and with any precision whether marriage causes happiness.”