Happiness is subjective, there’s no doubt about that. As the Washington Post points out, “One person’s happiness (from a high-stakes job, a sprawling yard, a set of twins) is another’s headache. Even the things that make most of us happy — dessert, puppies — do so in degrees: That cupcake that brings you some joy may make another person’s day.”
So in an effort to measure how happy Americans are in different parts of the country, economists from Harvard and the University of British Columbia mapped the responses to a national survey of 300,000 people that asked a simple, but revealing question: “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?”
The researchers used that question to calculate levels of happiness for 318 metropolitan areas across the U.S., and what they found may surprise you.
Think that high-paying job is going to make you happy?
New York City, one of the wealthiest metros in the country, ranks dead last when it comes to happiness, and its not alone among America’s most affluent areas. The Washington Post actually points out that “unhappiness looks like it’s concentrated in some wealthier, urban areas.”
So why do people live there?
“(H)istorically its residents were well compensated for their joylessness,” the Post writes.
But compared to most cities around the country, residents of Alabama’s metro areas are pretty darn happy, as you can see in the map below.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how Alabama’s cities ranked, using the categories listed above: “least happy, less happy, meh, more happy and most happy.”
Three Alabama cities landed in the “most happy” category:
City: overall rank
Four Alabama cities were listed in the “more happy” category:
And four more Alabama cities made the “meh” category:
Not a single Alabama metro area was listed as “less happy” or “least happy.”
But considering many Americans continue to gravitate toward some of the more affluent, unhappier areas of the country, happiness obviously isn’t everything.
For a more in-depth look at the happiness data, head over to the Washington Post.
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