Blacks Lag Behind Whites in Life Satisfaction

by Lydia Saad

Housing and physical safety are particular problem areas for blacks

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is traditionally a time for reflecting on the life and dreams of the slain civil-rights leader, and for measuring the progress made in achieving his societal goals: justice, equality, harmony. This year on the holiday, Gallup's analysis of race-related data focuses less on the lofty values that mark King's legacy, and more on the everyday aspects of life experienced by black Americans.

The unfortunate truth is that blacks have yet to achieve the same level of personal contentment as have whites or Hispanics. Each June, Gallup conducts a major audit of minority rights and relations in the United States. In 2003, only 37% of blacks said they were "very satisfied" with their lives as a whole, compared to 42% of Hispanics and 55% of non-Hispanic whites. A large number of blacks were "somewhat satisfied," bringing the total satisfaction level up to 82%, but even this is lower than whites' total satisfaction, which registers 92%.

Overall Satisfaction With Life
June 2003

Only 17% of blacks say they are dissatisfied with their lives, similar to the 14% of Hispanics who say this, but double the rate seen among whites (8%).

Housing, Safety, and Opportunity Are Problem Areas

This deficit in blacks' overall satisfaction is reflected in subdued black perceptions of many specific aspects of their lives. A majority of black adults say they are very satisfied with their family life and their personal health, and a majority of employed blacks are very satisfied with the job or work they do. But less than half of blacks are very satisfied with their education, housing, safety from physical harm or violence, their communities as places to live, their opportunities for success in life, or their financial situations.

As shown in the chart below, black satisfaction lags behind that of whites in all nine areas tested, but particularly with respect to housing, personal safety, and opportunities for success. (It would seem that lower satisfaction with one's community as a place to live relates back to dissatisfaction with housing and personal safety.)

 

Percentage "Very Satisfied"

 

2003 Jun 12-18
(sorted by "Blacks")

Non-Hispanic Whites

Hispanics

Blacks

White-Black Gap in Ratings

%

%

%

(in pct. pts.)

Family life

75

73

61

-14

Personal health

58

59

52

-6

Job/work

59

51

52

-7

Education

54

49

48

-6

Housing

69

50

44

-25

Physical safety

63

59

43

-20

Community

67

49

42

-25

Opportunities to succeed

61

47

41

-20

Financial situation

32

24

22

-10

Average

60

51

45

The average level of satisfaction among Hispanics across all nine areas (51%) falls about halfway between the average satisfaction scores of whites (60%) and blacks (45%).

Again, when factoring in the percentage saying they are "somewhat" satisfied, a majority of blacks are generally satisfied with all the areas of life tested in the June 12-18, 2003 survey. But, given whites' higher rate of deep satisfaction, there is still much room for improvement in the way blacks perceive their world.

Small Gains in Satisfaction

Indeed, some improvement has occurred in recent years. Since the question was instituted in 2001, Gallup has seen no change in blacks' overall satisfaction with life (the 5-point drop shown below is not statistically significant), but there have been meaningful increases in the percentage very satisfied with their education, physical safety, and work.

 

Trend in Percentage of Blacks Who Are "Very Satisfied"

 

(subcategories sorted by "Change")

2001

2002

2003

Change Since 2001

%

%

%

(in pct. pts.)

Life overall

42

39

37

-5

Job/work

36

41

52

16

Education

38

43

48

10

Physical safety

33

44

43

10

Financial situation

15

18

22

7

Housing

41

44

44

3

Family life

59

60

61

2

Opportunities to succeed

40

39

41

1

Community

42

44

42

0

Personal health

54

56

52

-2

Over the same period, Gallup has seen similar improvements among Hispanics in their ratings of education and physical safety, and similar changes among whites in their ratings of education and work.

Other Indicators of Racial Progress

The 2003 poll also reviewed public perceptions about the civil rights movement, and the state of race relations today. Among the major findings:

  • A majority of blacks (71%) believe that civil rights for blacks have improved over the course of their lifetimes, but only a quarter of blacks feel they have "greatly" improved.
  • Older blacks are not much more likely than younger blacks to perceive civil rights gains. About three-quarters of blacks aged 40 and older (76%) say that civil rights have either somewhat or greatly improved in their lifetimes, compared with 65% of younger blacks who say the same.
  • Majorities of whites and blacks (69% and 59%, respectively) consider race relations between whites and blacks in the United States to be "good." Only 30% of whites and 39% of blacks consider them "bad."
  • Most blacks report that they have experienced racial discrimination in public life or employment at some time in the past year on account of their race. About a quarter of blacks say it happens to them at least weekly (26%), another 13% say it happens about once a month, and 25% say it happens a few times a year. Another 15% of blacks experience such discrimination less than once a year, while 19% say they never do.
  • Only 40% of black Americans are satisfied with the way blacks are treated in society. Nearly three in five (59%) are dissatisfied.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,385 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 12-18, 2003, including oversamples of blacks and Hispanics that are weighted to reflect their true proportions in the general population. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. Results for the sample of 241 blacks, aged 18 and older, have a margin of sampling error of ±7 percentage points. Results for the sample of 266 Hispanics, aged 18 and older, have a margin of sampling error of ±7 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

12. Overall, how satisfied are you with your life -- are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

51

39

7

3

*

2002 Jun 3-9

51

39

6

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

53

38

6

2

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

50

39

7

3

1

2002 Jun 3-9

54

37

5

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

55

36

6

2

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

51

38

8

3

*

2002 Jun 3-9

49

41

7

2

1

2001 Jun 11-17

50

40

7

3

*

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

55

37

6

2

*

2002 Jun 3-6

55

37

5

2

1

2001 Jun 11-17

54

38

5

3

*

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

37

45

12

5

1

2002 Jun 3-9

39

45

11

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

42

45

11

1

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

42

43

11

3

1

2002 Jun 3-9

46

44

6

2

2

2001 Jun 11-17

49

39

9

3

*

* Less than 0.5%

13. Next we'd like to know how satisfied are you with each of the following aspects of your life -- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied. How satisfied are you with -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Your community as a place to live in

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

61

28

7

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

61

29

5

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

58

30

8

4

*

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

58

31

7

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

61

29

6

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

59

29

8

3

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

64

26

6

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

61

28

5

5

1

2001 Jun 11-17

57

30

8

5

*

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

67

24

6

3

*

2002 Jun 3-6

64

28

4

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

61

29

6

4

*

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

42

40

10

7

1

2002 Jun 3-9

44

33

9

13

1

2001 Jun 11-17

42

38

11

8

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

49

35

8

8

--

2002 Jun 3-9

55

27

10

7

1

2001 Jun 11-17

53

31

12

4

*

* Less than 0.5%

B. Your current housing

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

64

27

5

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

59

31

5

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

63

30

5

2

*

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

63

28

6

3

*

2002 Jun 3-9

59

32

4

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

63

32

4

*

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

65

26

5

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

58

30

6

5

1

2001 Jun 11-17

63

27

7

3

*

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

69

24

5

2

*

2002 Jun 3-6

64

28

4

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

66

27

5

2

*

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

44

39

9

7

1

2002 Jun 3-9

44

33

10

13

1

2001 Jun 11-17

41

43

11

5

*

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

50

36

5

9

*

2002 Jun 3-9

49

37

8

5

1

2001 Jun 11-17

45

36

11

8

*

* Less than 0.5%

C. Your education

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

53

34

9

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

45

39

11

5

*

2001 Jun 11-17

45

42

9

3

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

53

34

9

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

46

41

9

4

*

2001 Jun 11-17

48

40

9

2

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

53

34

9

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

46

37

12

5

*

2001 Jun 11-17

44

43

9

3

1

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

54

35

7

4

*

2002 Jun 3-6

47

40

9

4

*

2001 Jun 11-17

48

40

8

3

1

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

48

30

13

8

1

2002 Jun 3-9

43

36

14

7

--

2001 Jun 11-17

38

44

15

3

--

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

49

28

18

5

*

2002 Jun 3-9

42

36

16

5

1

2001 Jun 11-17

38

41

13

7

1

* Less than 0.5%

13. (continued) Next we'd like to know how satisfied are you with each of the following aspects of your life -- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied. How satisfied are you with -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

 

D. Your family life

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

72

21

4

2

1

2002 Jun 3-9

69

23

4

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

69

25

3

2

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

71

23

3

2

1

2002 Jun 3-9

68

23

5

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

72

25

1

1

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

74

19

4

2

1

2002 Jun 3-9

70

23

4

3

*

2001 Jun 11-17

67

25

4

3

1

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

75

19

3

2

1

2002 Jun 3-6

71

22

4

2

1

2001 Jun 11-17

72

22

3

2

1

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

61

28

7

2

2

2002 Jun 3-9

60

27

6

6

1

2001 Jun 11-17

59

32

5

3

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

73

18

5

3

1

2002 Jun 3-9

73

22

2

3

*

2001 Jun 11-17

73

21

4

2

--

* Less than 0.5%

E. Your financial situation

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

30

44

16

10

*

2002 Jun 3-9

26

50

13

9

2

2001 Jun 11-17

26

51

15

7

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

33

42

16

8

1

2002 Jun 3-9

30

49

10

8

3

2001 Jun 11-17

28

52

15

5

*

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

28

45

15

12

--

2002 Jun 3-9

22

51

15

10

2

2001 Jun 11-17

25

51

14

10

*

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

32

44

15

9

*

2002 Jun 3-6

29

51

10

8

2

2001 Jun 11-17

29

50

14

7

*

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

22

43

20

14

1

2002 Jun 3-9

18

42

25

14

1

2001 Jun 11-17

15

47

20

17

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

24

46

19

10

1

2002 Jun 3-9

22

55

12

9

2

2001 Jun 11-17

23

47

17

13

*

* Less than 0.5%

F. Your personal health

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

58

31

6

5

*

2002 Jun 3-9

58

30

7

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

54

35

6

5

*

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

57

34

5

3

1

2002 Jun 3-9

61

29

6

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

57

34

6

3

--

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

59

29

7

5

*

2002 Jun 3-9

56

30

8

5

1

2001 Jun 11-17

52

35

7

6

*

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

58

32

5

4

1

2002 Jun 3-6

59

29

7

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

54

34

7

5

*

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

52

31

9

7

1

2002 Jun 3-9

56

31

9

4

*

2001 Jun 11-17

54

35

7

3

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

59

27

9

5

--

2002 Jun 3-9

59

27

9

5

*

2001 Jun 11-17

57

30

8

5

--

* Less than 0.5%

G. Your safety from physical harm or violence

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

60

31

5

3

1

2002 Jun 3-9

52

38

5

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

55

33

7

4

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

63

30

4

2

1

2002 Jun 3-9

57

36

2

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

61

31

5

2

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

58

31

7

3

1

2002 Jun 3-9

48

39

8

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

50

35

9

6

*

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

63

30

4

2

1

2002 Jun 3-6

54

39

4

2

1

2001 Jun 11-17

59

31

7

3

*

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

43

38

13

4

2

2002 Jun 3-9

44

32

14

8

2

2001 Jun 11-17

33

45

10

11

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

59

27

9

5

*

2002 Jun 3-9

49

35

6

9

1

2001 Jun 11-17

47

32

12

8

1

* Less than 0.5%

H. The opportunities you have had to succeed in life

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

56

32

7

5

*

2002 Jun 3-9

53

34

7

4

2

2001 Jun 11-17

48

38

10

3

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

57

33

6

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

56

34

5

3

2

2001 Jun 11-17

53

36

8

2

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

56

32

7

5

*

2002 Jun 3-9

51

35

9

4

1

2001 Jun 11-17

43

40

11

4

2

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

61

31

5

3

*

2002 Jun 3-6

58

32

5

3

2

2001 Jun 11-17

49

37

10

3

1

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

41

36

14

9

*

2002 Jun 3-9

39

39

10

11

1

2001 Jun 11-17

40

43

10

6

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

47

34

10

9

*

2002 Jun 3-9

44

38

14

3

1

2001 Jun 11-17

44

36

10

8

2

* Less than 0.5%

I. Your job, or the work you do

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what
satis-
fied

Some-
what
dissatis-
fied

Very
dissatis-
fied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

56

35

5

4

*

2002 Jun 3-9

55

34

7

4

*

2001 Jun 11-17

50

39

7

4

--

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

57

36

4

3

*

2002 Jun 3-9

55

35

7

3

*

2001 Jun 11-17

50

39

6

5

--

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

55

34

6

5

--

2002 Jun 3-9

54

34

8

4

--

2001 Jun 11-17

50

38

8

4

--

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

59

33

5

3

--

2002 Jun 3-6

56

35

7

2

--

2001 Jun 11-17

51

37

7

5

--

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

52

41

4

3

--

2002 Jun 3-9

41

35

9

15

*

2001 Jun 11-17

36

47

9

7

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

51

35

6

8

--

2002 Jun 3-9

59

33

8

*

--

2001 Jun 11-17

51

35

7

7

--

* Less than 0.5%

BASED ON 865 NATIONAL ADULTS EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME; MAXIMUM ERROR ±4 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON 457 MEN EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME; MAXIMUM ERROR ±5 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON 408 WOMEN EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME; MAXIMUM ERROR ±5 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON 504 NON-HISPANIC WHITES EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME; MAXIMUM ERROR ±5 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON 153 BLACKS EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME; MAXIMUM ERROR ±9 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON 169 HISPANICS EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME; MAXIMUM ERROR ±9 PCT. PTS.

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/10258/Blacks-Lag-Behind-Whites-Life-Satisfaction.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030