According to a study published by the online journal LiveScience, 80% of the happy states are in the South or Southwest. The top ten states are:
- South Carolina
California with all of it's state of California Dreamin, only ranked 46th. The result may surprise you until you dig a little deeper to see how the study was completed. The data consisted of two elements. The first data set consisted of personal reports of happiness from 1.3 million people. It's important to note that the study was conducted before Hurricane Katrina devastated the South, in particular, Louisiana. The second data set consisted of objective metrics such as:
- sunshine hours
- air quality
- traffic congestion
- housing prices
The results actually showed that the two data sets matched up. The perception of happiness matched the objective study.
What's interesting to note is that, the most obese states are also the happiest. 5 of the top ten happiest states also were on the top ten obese states. Another interesting correlation is that in 2009 the Gallup Poll, reported that 7 out of the top 10 happiest states also ranked among the top 10 most religious states.
Commenting on the study, Professor Oswald has states, "We have been asked a lot whether we expected that states like New York and California would do so badly in the happiness ranking. Having visited and lived in various parts of the US, I am only a little surprised. Many people think these states would be marvellous 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. In a way, it is like the stock market. If everyone thinks it would be great to buy stock X, that stock is generally already overvalued. Bargains in life are usually found outside the spotlight. It may be that exactly the same is true of the best places to live."