Confirmed! Americans happier on weekends

Liz Goodwin

A new study confirms a universal truth known by pretty much every office worker: Americans are significantly happier on the weekends than during the work week.

Almost all of that extra happiness can be attributed to the 1.7 hours of extra socializing people squeeze in on weekend days than on work days, Canadian researchers say in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. That bonus bit of fraternization with fellow humans raises overall happiness by an average of 2 percent, the researchers found. (On weekdays, respondents said they only socialized 5.4 hours per day, including phone and email.)

Curiously, however, people showed no significant difference in their happiness levels on specific weekdays. Which means the next time an annoying co-worker asks if you have a "case of the Mondays," you can inform him or her that no such condition exists.

Men, married people, parents, and those with full-time jobs showed the biggest jumps in weekend and holiday happiness over weekday well-being. Women are slightly more happy than men during the work week, while men report feeling happier than women over the weekends. Full-time workers who weren't satisfied with their jobs also showed big disparities between their weekday and weekend happiness--but mostly because they were unhappier during the week, not happier over the weekends.

Workers who reported that their supervisor is more like a "partner" than a "boss" showed a much smaller happiness jump over the weekends, suggesting that their jobs are more enjoyable and thus the weekdays are not as much of a chore as they are for less fortunate workers who may view their bosses more antagonistically.

The results were mined from the Gallup Healthways U.S./Daily poll with a sample size of more than 600,000 respondents. Interviewers asked respondents to rate how often they experienced laughter, happiness, enjoyment, sadness, worry, and anger on the previous day.

Since Americans work longer hours than workers in most other developed countries, researchers speculated that the jump in weekend happiness might be bigger for them than employees in Europe, for instance, which generally keeps employees on shorter work weeks.

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