John Iceland, Professor of Sociology and Demography, Examines Black-White Differences in Happiness
In this study we examine disparities in levels of happiness (or the “happiness gap”), a measure of well-being that many would consider to be of intrinsic importance. That is, while income is thought to be important for things that it can be used to purchase—such as food, shelter, better health care, consumer goods, and the like—happiness is an end that many people strive for in their everyday life. There are a number of reasons to believe why we might observe racial disparities in happiness. For one, blacks and whites differ in various socio-demographic characteristics that have been shown to be associated with happiness, including income, education, labor force status, and family living arrangements. In addition, blacks might differ from whites in other ways that are more difficult to capture in conventional surveys, such as exposure to racism and discrimination and stress that might accompany such exposure (Geronimus et al., 2006; Massey, 2004; Williams, 1999).