by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Who’s happier, finds more meaning in life, and is more generous to the poor — liberals or conservatives? Liberals, right? Garrison Keillor voiced the conventional wisdom: “Liberalism is the politics of kindness.” …
… Well, not if you go by what serious scholars have found when they investigate this question. Conservatives have happier families, find more meaning in life, are generally happier overall, and donate far more money and time to the needy than their liberal peers.
Also, it’s not just general conservatism per se that makes the difference. The more socially conservative people are, the happier and more content with life they are. And party affiliation matters significantly. Conservative Republicans outpace conservative, moderate, and liberal Democrats. When picking your neighbors, regardless of your politics or beliefs, conservative Republicans are who you want.
New research released by the Institute for Family Studies (you should bookmark them!) demonstrates that conservatives tend to be much more “completely satisfied” with their family lives compared to their liberal friends and neighbors. Forty-one percent of both liberals and moderates report being “completely satisfied” with their family lives, while 52 percent of conservatives do. …
… Second, a much larger body of research has long demonstrated that, all things being equal, conservatives tend to be happier overall than their liberal neighbors are. This is truer for social conservatives than for fiscal conservatives, and the more conservative a conservative is, the happier he or she seems to be. That’s not nothing.
A massive study published earlier this year, involving five different data samples from 16 Western countries spanning more than four decades, adds more meat to this topic. These scholars from the University of Southern California found, as they put it, “In sum, conservatives reported greater meaning in life and greater life satisfaction than liberals.”