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Friends, faith and travel drive Black joy – and so does a high income, poll says

Black Americans say they find joy and fulfillment in spending time with family and friends, their faith and traveling, according to a Pew Research Center analysis published Thursday.
Nearly 4 in 5 Black adults across all socioeconomic levels say they get a great deal or fair amount of joy or fulfillment from spending time with loved ones. Two-thirds said the same for spiritual or religious practices, and over half said the same for traveling. However, activities that can cost more, such as travel or creating and experiencing the arts, can be difficult for lower-income Black Americans to access.
“This is part of our deep dive into the Black experience, and one of the things that we know about Black adults is they have one of the largest intraracial income inequality gaps,” said Pew research associate and study author Khadijah Edwards.
Data for the analysis came from two 2023 Pew surveys of 9,400 Black Americans on personal happiness and joy.
“We want to understand how Black Americans are thinking about the American dream and what success looks like to Black people living in the United States,” Edwards said, “and we know that success is not just about financial achievements.”
The Pew analysis found that Black Americans with higher incomes are much more likely to report finding joy and fulfillment in activities that cost money, which is consistent with what researchers have known for decades: There is a connection between income and enjoyment of life as well as between happiness and free time.
Around 76% of Black adults with higher incomes said they enjoy traveling, compared to 64% of those with middle incomes and 48% with lower incomes. Similarly, over half of higher-income Black Americans said they enjoy creating or experiencing the arts, compared to just 45% of middle-income and 39% of lower-income adults.
Regardless of socioeconomic status, nearly all Black adults first and foremost find joy in spending time with their loved ones. Approximately 88% of higher-income, 83% of middle-income and 74% of lower-income Black Americans said they get a great deal or fair amount of joy and fulfillment from such activities.
More than 8 in 10 respondents said they are at least somewhat happy, with those with higher incomes more than twice as likely to report that they are extremely happy than those with lower incomes, according to the Pew study.
The research also found that around 39% of Black adults say they often have enough time to pursue the things they want to do, whereas another 41% say they sometimes have enough time. Around a fifth of respondents said they rarely or never have enough time.
“It is really interesting to see the activities where Black adults say that they get the most amount of joy from. Those top three activities are the same, actually, regardless of their income,” Edwards said.
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