New York ranks at bottom in US happiness rating

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NEW YORK - New Yorkers, it seems, are the most unhappy bunch you can imagine in the US, a study published in Science magazine said Tuesday.

New York ranks 51st behind Connecticut (50) and New Jersey (49) in a list that includes Washington DC (37), according to the study by two academics, Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwich in Britain and Stephen Wu of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey form the largest metropolitan region in the US where millions of people commute to work every day in and out of New York City, inhabited by 8.4 million people. The region’s economy has been led by Wall Street, but not in the past two years.

The top 10 happiest states are, in descending order, Louisiana, Hawai, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Alabama and Maine. They are among the poorest states.

“It falls to a New Yorker to ask how it is, if this is such an unhappy place, that more people are living in the city than ever before: an estimated 8.4 million,” Oswald said in an article that was also printed in The New York Times. “That’s a very sensible point.”

“Many people,” he said, “do indeed think of states like New York and California as marvelous places to live in”.

“The problem,” Oswald said, “is that if too many individuals think that way, they move into those states, and the resulting congestion and house prices make it a nonfulfilling prophecy”.

Oswald and Wu used two previous surveys, one by the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which asked 1.3 million people about their health and happiness, and a state-by-state research by the University of California, Los Angeles, on quality-of-life gauges like climate, taxes, cost of living, commuting times, crime rates and schools.

The academics found that Americans who described themselves as happy live in states where quality of life is good by most standards, including housing and traffic.

Top-happiness-ranked Louisiana was hit by deadly hurricane Katrina in 2005. But data obtained on quality of life predated Katrina and the state is warm.

Sunny Californa ranks 46 in the happiness rating.

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