Skip to comments.Want to be happier? Try living in a sunnier [and a RED] state
Posted on 12/18/2009 2:26:57 PM PST by rhema
WASHINGTON People in sunny, outdoorsy states Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida say they're the happiest Americans, and researchers think they know why.
A new study comparing self-described pleasant feelings with objective measures of good living found these folks generally have reason to feel fine.
The places where people are most likely to report happiness also tend to rate high on studies comparing things like climate, crime rates, air quality and schools.
The happiness ratings were based on a survey of 1.3 million people across the country by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It used data collected over four years that included a question asking people how satisfied they are with their lives.
Economists Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England and Stephen Wu of Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., compared the happiness ranking with studies that rated states on a variety of criteria ranging from availability of public land to commuting time to local taxes.
Probably not surprisingly, their report in today's edition of the journal Science found the happiest people tend to live in the states that do well in quality-of-life studies.
Yet Oswald said "this is the first objective validation of 'happiness' data," which is something he said economists have been reluctant to use.
"Very loosely, you could say that we prove that happiness data are 'true' such data have genuine objective informational content," he said.
"Moreover," Oswald added, "it is interesting to uncover the pattern of life-satisfaction across one of the world's important nations."
Ranking No. 1 in happiness was Louisiana, home of Dixieland music and Cajun/Creole cooking.
Oswald urged a bit of caution in that ranking, however, noting that part of the happiness survey occurred before Hurricane Katrina struck the state, and part of it took place later. Nevertheless, he said, "We have no explicit reason to think there is a problem" with the ranking.
Rounding out the happy five were Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee and Arizona.
At the other end of the scale, last in happiness is New York state. As if to illustrate the problem, residents attending a meeting Wednesday in rural Queensbury unleashed their anger and cynicism at a state government they described as corrupt, self-dealing and too quick to raise taxes. One lifelong resident said he was ready to flee "this stinkin' state."
Oswald suggested the long commutes, congestion and high prices around New York City account for some of the unhappiness.
He said he has been asked if the researchers expected that states like New York and California, which ranked 46th, would do so badly in the happiness ranking.
"I am only a little surprised," he said. "Many people think these states would be marvelous places to live in. The problem is that if too many individuals think that way, they move into those states, and the resulting congestion and house prices make it a non-fulfilling prophecy."
Besides being interesting, the state-by-state pattern has scientific value, Oswald explained.
"We wanted to study whether people's feelings of satisfaction with their own lives are reliable, that is, whether they match up to reality ... in their own state. And they do match."
Oswald and Wu used data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collected from 2005 to 2008. The survey collects information on a variety of health measures. The research was supported by Britain's Economic and Social Research Council.
6. South Carolina
13. North Carolina
14. South Dakota
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
28. New Hampshire
34. West Virginia
37. District of Columbia
42. Rhode Island
47. New Jersey
51. New York
Top 25 states on the happiness index: 15 red states, 5 purple, 5 blue
Bottom 25 states on the happiness index: 15 blue states (+ DC), 6 purple, 4 red
That’s alright, I’m happy where I am.
Sunny 71 right now here in San Diego
Northeaterners are bringing their poison here. Thank you, no.
Having spent some time in Louisiana, I can surmise that they are happy not because of where they are, but because they are happy with themselves. Anyone can do that anywhere. As for the political aspect, studies show Conservatives are generally more happy than liberals, which explains a lot about their respective policies.
I want to live in Kentucky.
Yep, I have no intent of leaving Michigan despite our problems. Its home and its where I’m happy. The only time I’m not happy here is when I have to go to town.
More liberals in a state = more unhappy people = lower ranking for the state
FReepers will happily bloom wherever they're planted.
“Sunny 71 right now here in San Diego”
Clear and 12 right now here in upstate New York...
FReepers will happily bloom wherever they're planted.
Agreed...I'm thinking that they must have polled the Libs here in Western Washington State exclusively and left out Conservative Eastern Washington entirely in order to have Washington State rank almost as low as D.C.
At least you have clear.
Early am FOX was showing Maimi and they
had a lot of water in the streets from major rain.
Am a native of San Diego and love it here.
My second choice would be New York City
Loved my short time in SD. Stationed on the Constellation, and lived there a short while after discharge. Back then it was affordable, had a nice older apartment near Balboa park.
Since when do we have 51 states? Obama said we had 57. What happened to the others?
There’s a correlation between acceptance of personal responsibility and happiness.
There’s an obvious correlation between acceptance of personal responsibility and red states.
It’s not the weather. It’s the politics. California probably has more sunny days than any other state, yet it ranks 46 in terms of happiness. It also has more liberal kooks, all of whom are disgruntled and bitter.
I’m flying out tomorrow morning to your house! Book a charter boat for Monday and we’ll hit the water, my treat.
Is the Yellowtail fishing still as good as it was back in the early 70’s? I’ve chartered many fishing trips out of San Diego and never came back empty-handed. Really do miss that part of living in So. California (San Clemente, Dana Point, Huntington Beach).
NY surprisingly does have many positive qualities, upstate, that is. If we didn’t own our property outright we would be leaving on the next train out of town. Spent 3 hours thawing out our water pipes this morning (-2 last night), 10 tonight.
Charter that boat!
I can understand Louisiana being at the top of the list. Lots of sunshine, and whenever there's a hurricane, free beer.
Well, eastern KY seems far worse off then eastern TN. Almost as if eastern KY was an extension of WV.
And northern KY is very much like Ohio and Indiana.
Can’t wait till we’re back home in the Sweet Sunny South!