And though the number of Americans who said that they personally were “doing at least okay” actually rose slightly from 2019 to 2021, their evaluation of the national economy plummeted in that time frame. If this graph were a bumper sticker, it would read: Everything is terrible, but I’m fine.
On top of the old and global tendency to assume most people are doing worse than they say they are is a growing American tendency to be catastrophically gloomy about the direction of this country, even as we’re resiliently sunny about our own household’s future.
I would love to read a whole book on this phenomenon because I think it’s endlessly fascinating.
In case you get paywalled from seeing the numbers in this article, here’s the chart that’s at the core of the piece: