skip to main content
U.S. Adults Report Less Worry, More Happiness

U.S. Adults Report Less Worry, More Happiness

Story Highlights

  • 47% say they worried a lot "yesterday," down from 59% earlier in crisis
  • Democrats, lower-income, single adults report more negative emotions
  • Women more likely than men to report daily worry and loneliness

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As many states have begun to reopen their economies and many more are making plans to do so, Americans are reporting improvements in their emotional health. Although the coronavirus crisis persists, less than half of U.S. adults (47%) now say they worried a lot of the previous day -- down from 59% in late March/early April, when Gallup recorded an unprecedented increase in self-reported worry.

In addition to the 12-percentage-point drop in worry, boredom has dipped five points, to 41%, and happiness has edged up five points, to 72%. Loneliness has held steady, with about a quarter of Americans continuing to say they experienced it "during a lot of the day yesterday."

Americans' Emotions During COVID-19 Crisis
Percentages who experienced the following feelings "during a lot of the day yesterday"
Mar 23-Apr 5 Apr 6-26 Apr 27-May 10
% % %
Happiness 67 69 72
Worry 59 53 47
Boredom 46 45 41
Loneliness 24 26 24

These findings are from an online, probability-based Gallup Panel survey that has tracked Americans' emotional wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic since March 23. The latest data are from interviews conducted April 27-May 10, as a number of states started lifting stay-at-home orders and business restrictions. Yet, even as many Americans have begun to ease up on social distancing, they still have reservations about how to proceed and will do so only under certain circumstances.

Demographic Differences in Americans' Emotions

Just as Americans' views of many aspects of the COVID-19 situation differ by demographic subgroup, so too do their emotions during this unprecedented crisis. In particular, the greatest differences in emotions are seen by household income, party identification, marital status and gender.

  • U.S. adults with household incomes under $36,000 per year are more likely than those in higher-income groups to experience daily worry, boredom and loneliness -- and are much less likely to say they experienced happiness during a lot of the previous day.
  • Democrats report less happiness and more worry and loneliness than do Republicans.
  • Married and widowed Americans are happier, worry less and are less lonely than those who are single or divorced.
  • Women are more likely than men to report worry and loneliness.

Americans' Emotions During COVID-19, by Subgroup
Percentages who experienced the following feelings "during a lot of the day yesterday"
Happiness Worry Boredom Loneliness
% % % %
Annual household income
<$36,000 56 58 49 38
$36,000-<$90,000 74 44 41 23
$90,000+ 75 48 39 19
Party ID
Republicans 77 38 40 19
Independents 74 44 43 23
Democrats 66 58 42 28
Marital status
Married 77 45 39 17
Single/Never married 61 50 46 36
Divorced 62 50 39 35
Widowed 76 38 45 26
Men 73 44 43 20
Women 71 51 40 27

These differences in worry by income, marital status and gender are consistent with previous findings from the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index.

Partisanship strongly influences Americans' views of the COVID-19 situation, including their reported emotions to a large degree. It appears to have much more of an influence on worry than other emotions.

Household income appears about as strongly related to emotions as partisanship does. Upper-income Democrats and upper-income Republicans are more likely than lower-income Democrats and Republicans, respectively, to experience less negative emotions and more positive ones.

Bottom Line

The pandemic has taken an emotional toll on the public, as self-reported worry soared during the first month of restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. In recent weeks, however, Americans have experienced less negative emotions and have reported an increase in happiness.

Although much of the country is now taking steps to embark on a path to some kind of normalcy, more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives as a result of the disease, and COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in a handful of states. The trajectory of Americans' emotional wellbeing may depend greatly on what happens with the disease as restrictions are eased.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030