Age and wealth are factors in the "better off" equation
To answer the question: Yes, a majority of Americans who cast their ballots Tuesday feel better off than they were four years ago, according to a new Gallup poll. But while 51 percent say they are thriving, this is down from the high of 54 percent found in January and February of last year.
Americans have faced a series of economic challenges in the last four years, including the economic collapse, a recession, a volatile stock market, and a stubbornly stagnant recovery. These challenges were compounded by the deeply partisan political climate that stymied efforts to fix the economy,
By the time of President Obama started his first full month in office in February 2009, the percentage of Americans who were struggling climbed to an all-time high of 53 percent, compared with 42 percent who said they were thriving, Gallup reports. While Americans' life ratings rebounded later that year and have remained generally elevated since. They are still “a long ways from its best.”
The Gallup poll classifies Americans as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Those who rate their life a 7 or higher and their life in five years an 8 or higher are deemed to be thriving. Those who rate both dimensions a 4 or lower are considered suffering. Ratings in the middle are considered struggling.
Americans young and old rate their lives better now than they did four years ago, but their life ratings declined in October, an indication that the financial issues that impact one’s daily life are impacting all households regardless of age. Young adults, however, have consistently and optimistically been more likely to report thriving in their lives than older adults,
Of course wealth level is also a factor in the “better off” equation. Millionaires surveyed recently by Millionaire Corner were more likely than non-Millionaires to say they were better off than they were just a year ago. More than 60 percent of Millionaires believe they are better off that they were a year ago, but a comparable share of non-millionaires feel their wealth has declined.
Why do most Millionaires feel better off? Nearly half (48 percent) of those who feel more prosperous say that their portfolio has improved and close to one-fourth (23 percent) believe the economy is improving. More than 20 percent report an increase in disposable income, and 13 percent say they have less debt.
A majority (53 percent) of non-Millionaires, on the other hand, report a decrease in disposable income, while close to half (48 percent) believe the economy is getting worse. More than one-third (37 percent) say they have had to take on more debt, and roughly 13 percent report a decline in their portfolio performance.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.