This Thanksgiving Just One-third of Americans Have More to be Thankful For Than a Few Years Ago

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – November 17, 2011 – 2011 has proven to be a difficult year for the U.S. and many Americans-the economy continues to be shaky, unemployment remains high, people are unhappy with their political leaders, and many have been affected by a series of damaging natural disasters. Considering the circumstances it may not be surprising that only a third of U.S. adults say that they will have more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving than they had a few years ago (32%). Over two in five say they will have about as much to be thankful for this year as they had a few years ago (45%), which is slightly more than said so last year (41%). One in five say they will have less to be thankful for (18%) and 5% are not sure.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,463 adults surveyed online between October 10 and 17, 2011.

    When asked to think about their overall feelings this Thanksgiving compared to a few years ago many Americans don’t seem particularly grateful, yet when asked about specific items, the image displays differently:

    • Over five in six Americans say they will feel thankful this Thanksgiving both for the health of their family (85%) and because of their family relationships (85%);
    • Three quarters say they will feel thankful because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends (74%) and two thirds say they are thankful that good technology is easily accessible (63%).
    • While unemployment and underemployment remain prevalent, Americans seem thankful for their situation, even if it may not be ideal as 63% say they feel thankful for their own personal economic situation and a similar number say so for their work situation (61%).
    • A majority of Americans also note that they are thankful it is safe to walk on the streets (56%).
    • An item that Americans are divided about is the way people treat each other – 36% say they feel thankful for this while 40% do not;
    • And, the one item on the list that a majority of Americans say they do not feel thankful for is, predictably, the economic situation in the U.S., which 67% say they do not feel thankful for, 14% feel thankful for and 19% are not sure.

    So What?

    It is interesting to note that older Americans feel significantly more thankful than those younger about a number of items, including those regarding family, health, relationships, work and finances. It’s possible that those older have had more life experience, both good and bad, and therefore have more perspective on feeling thankful for what they have, since they understand things could always be worse. All Americans, regardless of age, should take time this Thanksgiving holiday, between the food and festivities, to think about their life and feel thankful for what they have and have accomplished-aspiring for more or wishing for better is not mutually exclusive with being thankful for the good things you have.

     

    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

    2011

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    About as much to be thankful for

    45

    47

    35

    41

    45

    More to be thankful for

    38

    37

    50

    41

    32

    Less to be thankful for

    15

    15

    13

    13

    18

    Not sure

    2

    1

    2

    5

    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 18-34

    Gen. X 35-46

    Baby Boomers 47-65

    Matures 66+

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    About as much to be thankful for

    45

    40

    45

    46

    51

    49

    42

    44

    38

    More to be thankful for

    32

    38

    29

    34

    21

    26

    32

    39

    42

    Less to be thankful for

    18

    15

    18

    18

    26

    18

    22

    12

    19

    Not sure

    5

    8

    8

    2

    3

    7

    4

    5

    1

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

     

    TABLE 1C

    THANKFULNESS – BY REGION AND GENDER

    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

    Region

    Gender

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    About as much to be thankful for

    45

    49

    48

    38

    49

    45

    45

    More to be thankful for

    32

    28

    31

    36

    30

    30

    34

    Less to be thankful for

    18

    17

    17

    20

    17

    20

    17

    Not sure

    5

    7

    4

    5

    4

    5

    5

    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

    85

    7

    8

    Because of your family relationships

    85

    8

    8

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

    74

    11

    15

    Because good technology is easily accessible

    66

    13

    21

    Because of your own personal economic situation

    63

    25

    12

    Because of your work situation

    61

    23

    16

    Because it is safe to walk on the streets

    56

    24

    20

    Because of the way people treat each other

    36

    40

    24

    Because of the economic situation in the U.S.

    14

    67

    19

    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

    2010

    2011

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Because of the health of your family

    96

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    86

    85

    Because of your family relationships

    95

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    86

    85

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

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    78

    74

    Because good technology is easily accessible

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    69

    66

    Because of your own personal economic situation

    81

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    66

    63

    Because of your work situation

    78

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    65

    61

    Because it is safe to walk on the streets

    NA

    NA

    50

    NA

    NA

    63

    56

    Because of the way people treat each other

    NA

    42

    55

    NA

    46

    45

    36

    Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

    32

    58

    78

    69

    59

    23

    14

    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

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

    Summary of those saying thankful

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    2011

    Generation

    Echo Boomers 18-34

    Gen. X 35-46

    Baby Boomers 47-65

    Matures

    66+

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Because of the health of your family

    85

    78

    83

    88

    92

    Because of your family relationships

    85

    81

    81

    88

    91

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

    74

    70

    67

    76

    85

    Because good technology is easily accessible

    66

    66

    60

    67

    74

    Because of your own personal economic situation

    63

    59

    58

    65

    71

    Because of your work situation

    61

    55

    57

    67

    65

    Because it is safe to walk on the streets

    56

    59

    54

    56

    52

    Because of the way people treat each other

    36

    41

    33

    36

    33

    Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

    14

    18

    10

    16

    6

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 10 and 17, 2011 among 2,463 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.

    J40806

    Q755, 760

    The Harris Poll® #120, November 17, 2011

    By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher