Tuesday, December 22, 2009

States of Happiness

Ladies and gentleman, your latest state-by-state quantification of human feeling:

united states happiness map

This map is based on a new study that finds correlations between subjectively reported happiness and certain objective factors like air quality, cost of living, and climate:
The new research published in the elite journal Science on 17th December 2009 is by Professor Andrew Oswald of the UK’s University of Warwick and Stephen Wu of Hamilton College in the US. It provides the first external validation of people’s self-reported levels of happiness. “We would like to think this is a breakthrough. It provides an justification for the use of subjective well-being surveys in the design of government policies, and will be of value to future economic and clinical researchers across a variety of fields in science and social science” said Professor Oswald.

The researchers examined a 2005- 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System random sample of 1.3 million United States citizens in which life-satisfaction in each U.S. state was measured. This provided a league table of happiness by US State reproduced below. The researchers decided to use the data to try to resolve one of the most significant issues facing economists and clinical scientists carrying out research into human well-being.
That issue: whether subjective reports of well-being (like those portrayed here) can be trusted. Seems that they can.

The study used subjective reports of well-being, but then checked those reports against a number of other variables for each state, including "precipitation; temperature; wind speed; sunshine; coastal land; inland water; public land; National Parks; hazardous waste sites; environmental ‘greenness’; commuting time; violent crime; air quality; student-teacher ratio; local taxes; local spending on education and highways; [and] cost of living." It turned out that the objective factors which would be expected to correlate with subjective happiness - nice climate, affordability, short commutes and all that - actually do correlate to the reported happiness of those 1.3 million surveyees. According to Professor Andrew Oswald, the lead author of the study:
“The state-by-state pattern is of interest in itself. But it also matters scientifically. We wanted to study whether people's feelings of satisfaction with their own lives are reliable, that is, whether they match up to reality -- of sunshine hours, congestion, air quality, etc -- in their own state. And they do match. When human beings give you an answer on a numerical scale about how satisfied they are with their lives, you should pay attention.

People’s happiness answers are true, you might say. This suggests that life-satisfaction survey data might be tremendously useful for governments to use in the design of economic and social policies,” said Oswald.
The happiest state is Louisiana (!), followed by Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona. The South does well in general, and the Northeast and Rust Belt not so much, which is interesting: happiness levels seem to be in strikingly inverse proportion to levels of economic and social development. The unhappiest state, it thrills me to report, is New York, followed by Connecticut and New Jersey - a trifecta for the tri-state!

The rest of the unhappiest quintile of states form a Bleak Belt from southern New England to the Great Lakes, with California thrown in for good measure. California can't blame it on the climate, of course, so their other factors must have been really brutal. On the other hand, Montana and Maine managed to sneak into the top tier despite their godforsaken climes.

Via the NY Times.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Louisiana happiest really? Wow.

Andrew B said...

Republican vs. Democrat?

All the heavily Democrat states (considering all levels, not merely presidential voting) except Maine, Vermont, and Hawaii are very unhappy to middle of the road.

All the heavily Republican states except Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Kansas are very happy to middle of the road.

That's a pretty strong correlation.

Chachy said...

Yeah, I noticed that too, though I'm not sure how far the correlation goes. (This is one of those times where knowing anything about math might be illuminative.) For one, it doesn't seem to hold within regions. E.g., Minnesota and Wisconsin are more Democratic than Ohio and Indiana, and happier. VT and ME are happier than the more Republican NH. MT is a bit less Republican than ID, WY, or UT, but happier. Etc.

Anonymous said...

In Connecticut, I never notice any real unhappiness. Instead we tend to complain about many things and volunteer that we are unhappy, but when asked why we don't move, we simply say "we kind of like it here."

Rob said...

GDP, demographics, or success for that matter, is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Happiness it boils down to this simple equation:

Pleasure + flow + meaning = happiness

With this formula the fleeting and passing nature of pleasure sticks around for longer. By this I mean if you are really engaged, focuses and engaged in what you do then you'll enter a state of flow. You know you're in a state of flow because:

* are completely focused on the task at hand;
* forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you;
* lose track of time;
* feel happy and in control; and
* become creative and productive.

The meaning of your life has to come from within you, rather then it be imposed on you by others. This is what's called living an authentic life. While we adapt quickly to more money and material possessions, it seems we adapt less quickly, if at all, to meaningful things. This is also a vital component of contentment, because essentially you are not connected to your innermost self.

Without that connection, it's hard to feel a true meaning in some part of your life, and without the connection it's hard to feel happiness, other than the transient pleasure from time to time as described earlier, that most of us have mistaken for real happiness.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I can believe this though. I live in Arizona, which is supposed to be one of the happiest, but people out here seem to be miserable.
Still interesting nonetheless.

Richard said...

Note that the data was from 2005-2008, before the bulk of the housing bubble bursted, Lehman collapsed, and the economy went in a tailspin. I doubt people in Arizona are so happy these days.

Gus Snarp said...

Like most state level choropleth maps, this is fun to look at, but is at an entirely inappropriate scale to actually tell us anything useful. I expect that if we did it at the county level we would still see a pattern that matched political persuasion, but the breakdown would be urban/suburban/rural, like it is for just about anything else.

Buy Viagra said...

Hello state of happiness is really easy look for something that you like and enjoy it so be happy.

daftar oriflame online said...

its horror back unhappiest city :D

healthy sharing said...

Considerably, this post is really the sweetest on this notable topic. I harmonise with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings!.Please excuse my poor English as it is not my first tongue. free download music

lots in costa rica said...

I love when I have the opportunity to read blogs as interesting as this. really thanks and congratulations. Costa Rica Cheap Land for Sale

tn requin said...

sleeping bag
tablecloth
travel luggage
car gps
car parts
GPS navigation
portable GPS
lcd tv
flat tv
digital picture frames
unlocked cell phones
wedding dresses
wedding jewelry
chaussures mode
chaussures Femmes
women's shoes
round tablecloth
discount handbags
chaussures sport
chaussures pas cher
fashion bedding
id lanyard
lanyard
creative gadgets
gift ideas
kids wall stickers
wall stickers
bath curtains
kitchen faucet
bathroom faucet

dfadf said...

Microsoft Office
Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Office 2010 key
Office 2010 download
Office 2010 Professional
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010

xiamenb2c02 said...

EFX bracelet is energetic technology designed to instantly increse power.
EFX braceletis an embedded wearable holographic technology

designed to.Shop for high quality wholesale efx bracelet products on DHgate and get worldwide delivery.
silly bandz are a brand of silicone rubber bands formed into shapes including animals, These colorful
silly bandzare made of silicone and die molded in many different

fun shapes. They come in all different shapes, like foods, letters and animalsand and so on.welcome to enjoy colorful silly bandz for free shipping.

berita terbaru said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon
point blank
Biro Jodoh Online Gratis
Ramalan Bintang Zodiak Terbaru
Ramalan Shio Zodiak Tionghoa
Kumpulan Contoh Naskah Pidato
Cara daftar point blank
Point Blank Online Indonesia
Kata-kata Bijak dan Motivasi
Koleksi Status Keren Facebook
mobile phone
my cupu
Harga Spesifikasi HP
Kumpulan berita terbaru

Belajar Affiliate Marketing Online Gratis said...

thanks for sharing..

Belajar Internet Marketing dan Affiliate Marketing Online Gratis
How To Get Taller Naturally – Do You Know The Secrets?
How To Get Taller Fast In Weeks
Height Increasing Exercises – The Secret To Get Taller Instantly

Height Increasing Tips - Get Your Optimum Results said...

thanks for share

How To Get A Taller - Get You Optimum Results in Weeks
Exercises To Get Taller – Grow Taller Fast
Natural Ways To Get Taller - 100% Naturally
How To Look Tall - Tips On How You Can look Tall 2-3 inches Now!

tempat terindah said...

indonewz fashionable tempat

Penis Enlargement Pills said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
http://www.factspenisenlargement.com

ferragamo shoes said...

awesome...
the information of this post is very relevant
for what i am looking for, thank you so much for sharing this one

Anonymous said...

yes ok

viruscomp said...

Hello state of happiness is really easy look for something that you like and enjoy it so be happy

photoblog said...

I don't know if I can believe this though. I live in Arizona, which is supposed to be one of the happiest, but people out here seem to be miserable.
Still interesting nonetheless.

люстры said...

"I don't know if I can believe this though. I live in Arizona, which is supposed to be one of the happiest, but people out here seem to be miserable."
+100
=)

justin bieber said...

This is a smart blog. I mean it. Louisiana happiest really

Informasi Terbaru said...

I like your writing,.,.

nisioi_cosmin said...

There are actually plenty of particulars like that to take into consideration. That may be a nice point to convey up. I provide the ideas above as common inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where an important thing can be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round things like that, however I am positive that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Each boys and girls really feel the affect of just a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.
Remixuri 2011 | Muzica 2011

writing college essays said...

It will be wonderful if such state of Happiness could be real. But, I guess it's only in a dreams....

Sinus headache said...

Your post is really good providing good information Baby ear infection Prevent prostate cancer Prevent prostate cancer Lemon tea healh benefits Lemon tea healh benefits Prevent candida yeast infection Prevent candida yeast infection Health benefits of papaya Health benefits of papaya Benefits of peppermint oil Benefits of peppermint oil Stop hiccups Stop hiccups Water and weight loss Water and weight loss Wart Removal Wart Removal Health benefits of oatmeal
Benefits of tea tree oil Common digestive system diseases and disorders Health benefits of saltHealth benefits of salt Prevent wrinkles naturally Tighten sagging skin Dry skin patches treatmentDry skin patches Get rid of acneGet rid of acne Driving tips Migraine headache remedies Migraine headache

quail hill homes said...

It provides an justification for the use of subjective well-being surveys in the design of government policies, and will be of value to future economic and clinical researchers across a variety of fields in science and social science” said Professor Oswald.

rancho santa margarita mortgage brokers said...

The researchers decided to use the data to try to resolve one of the most significant issues facing economists and clinical scientists carrying out research into human well-being.

penegra said...

nice survey... but.. how u decide if they are happy or not.. economically or environment wise..

Suntrust Bank Online Banking said...

Funny how the happy states have huge poverty rates.

puertas metalicas cortafuegos said...

I think everybody ought to browse on it.

Agen Bola said...

With this formula the fleeting and passing nature of pleasure sticks around for longer. By this I mean if you are really engaged, focuses and engaged in what you do then you'll enter a state of flow.

Anonymous said...

Uh, I'm not sure who made the map, but it is bassackwards. The map actually portrays unhappiness rather than happiness. A map of happiness would have the darker blues represent more happiness and the lighter blues represent less happiness. Either change the title of the map to unhappiness or reverse the color scheme. Obviously the author never took an introductory cartography class. The lack of ejukation is killin' me!

hadirlah.com said...

Thank you for your very nice article, do not forget to read my articles also kata kata bijak, kata kata cinta, kata kata romantis, kata kata motivasi and many other interesting articles on my blog that.

Generic viagrabuy said...

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful way you describe Thanks for sharing
Generic Viagra buy
Generic Viagra
Tadalish SX
Generic Viagra
Sildenafil citrate
Caverta