Americans are thankful – especially for health and family

November 28, 2014, 2:06 PM GMT+0

Nearly nine in ten Americans are thankful this year, with more than a third more thankful than they were last year.

The reasons, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll focus on health and family, but politics does creep into some Americans’ Thanksgivings.

Thankfulness is even more present among the best off. 98% of those with family incomes over $100,000 say they are thankful. Nearly half of the best-off Americans are more thankful than they were last year. 95% of Republicans are thankful. Women are more thankful than men, blacks more thankful than whites, and older adults more thankful than those younger. But in all groups, more than eight in ten are thankful.

What are people thankful for? Family and health, for the most part. About four in ten volunteer their family as one of the things they are thankful for, and more than a third cite health. Jobs and employment are mentioned by about one in five. A few note that they got new jobs this year. At least one person combined all these reasons to be thankful: “That I am working, my family is healthy, and I am paying down some of my bills, and I am still here!”

Some specifically mention their religion as the reason they are grateful this year. Politics, too, matters for some, though not many. Less than one in twenty are thankful for something about the American political system – and a majority in this group volunteer the Republican victory in the midterm elections, and the party’s coming control of the Senate, as what they are grateful for.

For most Americans, these thanks go unsaid on Thanksgiving Day. Only one in five say one of their Thanksgiving rituals is to go around the table and say what they are thankful for each year. Another 20% say they do this sometimes.

This is a tradition more likely to be practiced by African-Americans and Hispanics. 43% of blacks and 32% of Hispanics say they talk about what they are thankful for on Thanksgiving. And more than a quarter of those under age 45 say this is a family practice.

See the full poll results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.