A Time for Thanks: 4 in 10 Americans Have More to be Thankful for than a Few Years Ago

Woman passing piece of pie to her child

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The season of giving thanks is upon us and many Americans are increasingly thankful. Over four in ten adults (41%) say they have more to be thankful for than they did a few years ago, while just 15% say they have less to be thankful for. Over one third (36%) say they have about as much to be thankful for.

Younger generations are especially thankful, with Millennials and Gen Xers particularly likely to say they have more to be thankful for (53% Millennials & 46% Gen Xers vs. 33% Baby Boomers & 24% Matures). Nearly half of women (47%), compared to just one third of men (35%), say they have more to be thankful for this year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,225 U.S. adults surveyed online between October 14 and 19, 2015.

 

Thankfulness abounds

Reasons to be thankful are certainly plentiful. Vast majorities each say they’re thankful this year for the health of their family (84%), their family relationships (84%), and because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends (75%).

Over half each also say they’re thankful because good technology is easily accessible (65%), because of their own personal economic situation (61%), and because of their work situation (57%). However, the same can’t be said for the economy as a whole. Fewer than three in ten (28%) say they’re thankful for the economic situation in the U.S., though it’s worth noting that this represents a considerable improvement over just two years ago (when only 17% of Americans indicated the same).

  • Perhaps they’re naïve, or maybe just optimistic, but nearly four in ten (39%) Millennials say they’re thankful for the U.S. economic situation, compared to one quarter or less of all other generations (25% Gen Xers, 23% Baby Boomers & 23% Matures).

While nearly half (46%) say they’re thankful because it’s safe to walk the streets, this sees a 6 point drop from two years ago. And people could perhaps stand to be a little nicer to each other as well this holiday season: just 32% of Americans say they’re thankful for the way people treat each other.

TABLE 1

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

2013

2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

More to be thankful for

38

37

50

41

38

41

About as much to be thankful for

45

47

35

41

43

36

Less to be thankful for

15

15

13

13

14

15

Not sure

2

1

2

5

5

8

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; *Prior to 2010, this question was asked by telephone

 

TABLE 2

THANKFULNESS  

By Generation 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

Generation

Gender

Millennials

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-50)

Baby Boomers

(51-69)

Matures

(70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

More to be thankful for

41

53

46

33

24

35

47

About as much to be thankful for

36

26

32

44

49

39

34

Less to be thankful for

15

9

14

19

24

17

13

Not sure

8

13

7

4

4

10

5

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

  

TABLE 3a

THANKFUL FOR SPECIFIC ITEMS 

Grid Summary

“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

84

10

6

Because of your family relationships

84

7

9

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

75

12

13

Because good technology is easily accessible

65

15

20

Because of your own personal economic situation

61

27

13

Because of your work situation

57

24

19

Because it is safe to walk on the streets

46

30

24

Because of the way people treat each other

32

43

24

Because of the economic situation in the U.S.

28

48

24

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

 

TABLE 3b

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

2013

2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Because of the health of your family

96

NA

NA

NA

NA

86

85

84

Because of your family relationships

95

NA

NA

NA

NA

86

84

84

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

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

78

76

75

Because good technology is easily accessible

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

69

68

65

Because of your own personal economic situation

81

NA

NA

NA

NA

66

62

61

Because of your work situation

78

NA

NA

NA

NA

65

60

57

Because it is safe to walk on the streets

NA

NA

50

NA

NA

63

53

46

Because of the way people treat each other

NA

42

55

NA

46

45

35

32

Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

32

58

78

69

59

23

17

28

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 3c

THANKFULNESS  

By Generation and Gender 

Summary of those saying “thankful”

“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

Gender

Millennials
(18-35)

Gen Xers
(36-50)

Baby Boomers
(51-69)

Matures
(70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Because of the health of your family

84

87

81

81

88

80

87

Because of your family relationships

84

84

81

84

89

81

86

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

75

79

74

71

75

71

78

Because good technology is easily accessible

65

69

63

62

66

67

64

Because of your own personal economic situation

61

60

58

61

67

59

62

Because of your work situation

57

64

57

53

51

58

57

Because it is safe to walk on the streets

46

52

48

40

40

49

42

Because of the way people treat each other

32

40

30

28

26

28

36

Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

28

39

25

23

23

31

26

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

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between October 14 and 19, 2015 among 2,225 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, The Harris Poll 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 Poll 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 our 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 The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #70, November 12, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll