Happiness index: the gasoline factor

The myth is that the U.S. is a nation of gasoline addicts. The fact is that people went on a diet about 35 years ago and have mostly stayed on the diet. From 1945 to 1978, gasoline use per person nearly tripled, from about 0.5 to about 1.4 gallons per day. Since 1980, use per person stayed in a range of 1.16 to 1.31 gallons per day. For 2013, the most recent year tallied, it was near the bottom of the range: 1.17 gallons per day.


UsGasolinePersonalUse1945to2013
Sources: U.S Energy Information Agency and Census Bureau

Nevertheless, trends in gasoline use seem to factor in a kind of national happiness index. Falling trends forecast changing politics: getting rid of Democrats in 1980, getting rid of Republicans in 1992. We look to be in another reversal, with vengeance already taken on Congress.

The happy-go-lucky years are long gone and not likely to return. If you happened to come along in the 1930s or 1940s, it was a wild ride; maybe you can tell your grandchildren.

– Craig Bolon, Brookline, MA, November 9, 2014

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