Poll: Young, single religious ‘Nones’ are listed as most unhappy in post-pandemic US

by Seth Udinski

Seth Udinski, FISM News


The religious category of “Nones,” or those who identify with no particular religion or as atheist, has grown in numbers in the last few decades in the United States, especially among Millennials and Generation Z. A poll recently released by the Institute of Family Studies reveals that this particular demographic is also the most unhappy since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began in 2020.

The poll explored happiness levels based on age demographics since 1972. The demographics were split between those under 35 and those over 35, and generally up until 2018, those two groups remained relatively near each other, with slightly more extreme results from the under 35 group. The under 35 age group that claimed to be unhappy never exceeded 18% during this time span, while the over 35 group never exceeded 16%.

But in 2019, the numbers began to surge for both groups, though the younger group significantly exceeded the older. In 2021, 30% of participants under the age of 35 said they were unhappy, while 22% of this over 35 said so as well.

The poll also explored increased unhappiness among specific demographics within the under 35 group. For example, before the COVID pandemic, only 16% of singles said they were unhappy, compared with almost 35% after the pandemic. Before COVID, 13% of males and 13% of females said they were unhappy. Afterward, 32% of males and 25% of females said they were unhappy.

Political affiliation also played a role in the increase. Before COVID, general unhappiness levels for both liberals and conservatives remained right around 13%. After the pandemic, the number of unhappy liberals was 32%, while unhappy conservatives came in at 25%.

The most impactful results of the poll came in religious affiliation. In 1972, young nonreligious people scored right around 28% on the unhappiness scale. 50 years later, in a society that has barreled down a path towards secularism, that number has risen to 60%.

Conversely, those are married and regular church attenders saw their unhappiness levels decreased in that same time span. In 1972, married churchgoers scored near 23% unhappy. That number plummeted to roughly 8% in 2021.