Despite Bad Economy, Americans Feel Thankful This Year

Majorities say they are thankful for their families, health, work, technology and personal finances

NEW YORK, N.Y., November 18, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Despite the economic crisis in the U.S. which has put many out of work and forced others to accept decreased benefits and pay, two in five Americans (41%) say this Thanksgiving they feel that they have more to be thankful for than a few years ago. Another two in five (41%) say they have about as much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, compared to a few years ago and just over one in ten (13%) say they have less to be thankful for this year; 5% say they are not sure.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,084 adults surveyed online between October 11 and 18, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

This year, more Americans say they have more to be thankful for than said so in either 1974 when this question was first asked, or a few years later in 1980 (38% and 37%, respectively). However, in 1983 half of Americans said they had more to be thankful for (50%), which is more than say so today.

Some other interesting findings include:

  • Younger Americans say they have more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving than in previous years—half of those 18-33 say this (49%), as do two in five of those 34-45 and 46-64 (43% and 38%), compared to just three in ten Matures, 65 and older, (30%) who say the same;
  • Americans with more education say they are more thankful—46% of both those who have graduated from college or attended grad school say this, compared to 35% of those who have not attended any college;
  • Despite younger Americans saying they have more to be thankful for this year, greater numbers of older Americans say they are thankful for a variety of items discussed. For example, adults aged 65 and older say they are thankful for the health of their family (87%), their family relationships (90%), their own personal economic situation (74%), their work situation (68%), because good technology is easily accessible (78%) and because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends (87%). Fewer Echo Boomers, aged 18-33, say they are thankful for these things—a drop of between 6 and 16 percentage points for each;
  • However, similar to their overall feelings of thankfulness, those with more formal education say they are thankful for a majority of the items discussed at greater rates than do those with less formal education.
  • Although strong majorities today say they are thankful for the health of their family (86%) and their family relationships (86%), more Americans said they were thankful for these things 30 years ago, in 1980 (96% and 95% said so, respectively);
  • Less than a quarter of Americans today say they are thankful for the economic situation in the U.S. (23%). This is the lowest number of Americans who say so since the question was first asked in 1980, and a stark contrast to the majorities who said they were thankful for the U.S.’s economic situation between 1983 and 1988;
  • More Americans say that they are thankful that it's safe to walk on the streets today (63%) compared to the 50% who said so in 1984.

So What?

Despite many Americans facing financial hardships as a result of the U.S. economy, many say they are more thankful this year, compared to how they have felt previously. Some of the things Americans say they are thankful for are not surprising, such as family and health, but other items mentioned are less expected, such as the two thirds who say so about their work situation (65%) and their own personal economic situation (66%). It may be that through the economic crisis and the emergence of a possible ‘new normal’, Americans have come to be more appreciative of what they have, regardless if it’s less than ideal, or less than it once was.

TABLE 1A
THANKFULNESS – TREND

"This Thanksgiving, do you feel you will have more to be thankful for than a few years ago, less to be thankful for, or about as much to be thankful for as you had then?"


Base: All adults

 

1974

1980

1983

2010*

%

%

%

%

About as much to be thankful for

45

47

35

41

More to be thankful for

38

37

50

41

Less to be thankful for

15

15

13

13

Not sure

2

1

2

5

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; *Prior to this year, this question was asked by telephone


TABLE 1B
THANKFULNESS – BY GENERATION AND EDUCATION

"This Thanksgiving, do you feel you will have more to be thankful for than a few years ago, less to be thankful for, or about as much to be thankful for as you had then?"


Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Education

Echo Boomers 18-33

Gen. X
34-45

Baby Boomers
46-64

Matures
65+

H.S. or less

Some college

College grad

Post grad

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

About as much to be thankful for

41

36

38

44

49

42

40

42

39

More to be thankful for

41

49

43

38

30

35

43

46

46

Less to be thankful for

13

6

14

16

19

15

14

10

12

Not sure

5

9

4

3

3

8

4

2

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


TABLE 2
THANKFUL FOR SPECIFIC ITEMS

"This Thanksgiving, will you feel thankful or not, for each of the following?"


Base: All adults

 

Thankful

Not Thankful

Not sure

%

%

%

Because of the health of your family

86

8

6

Because of your family relationships

86

7

7

Because of your own personal economic situation

66

23

12

Because of your work situation

65

21

14

Because of the economic situation in the U.S.

23

57

20

Because of the way people treat each other

45

38

17

Because it is safe to walk on the streets

63

20

17

Because good technology is easily accessible

69

16

16

Because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends

78

12

10

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


TABLE 3
THANKFUL - TREND

"This Thanksgiving, will you feel thankful or not, for each of the following?"
Summary of those saying “thankful”


Base: All adults

 

1980

1983

1984

1985

1988

Total
2010*

%

%

%

%

%

%

Because of the health of your family

96

NA

NA

NA

NA

86

Because of your family relationships

95

NA

NA

NA

NA

86

Because of your own personal economic situation

81

NA

NA

NA

NA

66

Because of your work situation

78

NA

NA

NA

NA

65

Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

32

58

78

69

59

23

Because of the way people treat each other

NA

42

55

NA

46

45

Because it is safe to walk on the streets

NA

NA

50

NA

NA

63

Because good technology is easily accessible

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

69

Because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

78

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; NA signifies this was not asked in that year; *Prior to 2010 this question was asked by telephone


TABLE 4
THANKFUL – BY GENERATION AND EDUCATION

"This Thanksgiving, will you feel thankful or not, for each of the following?"
Summary of those saying "thankful"


Base: All adults

 

Total
2010

Generation

Education

Echo Boomers 18-33

Gen. X
34-45

Baby Boomers
46-64

Matures
65+

H.S. or less

Some college

College grad

Post grad

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Because of the health of your family

86

81

88

89

87

82

89

89

89

Because of your family relationships

86

81

87

88

90

82

89

89

89

Because of your own personal economic situation

66

62

66

64

74

54

72

74

79

Because of your work situation

65

59

67

67

68

56

68

75

78

Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

23

25

27

19

24

19

24

32

23

Because of the way people treat each other

45

44

50

42

45

44

45

49

42

Because it is safe to walk on the streets

63

62

68

64

60

58

64

70

70

Because good technology is easily accessible

69

66

64

69

78

66

72

72

66

Because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends

78

71

73

81

87

77

79

81

71

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 11 to 18, 2010 among 3,084 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J38848
Q905, 910

The Harris Poll®, November 18, 2010
By Samantha Braverman, Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.