America’s Unhappiest Cities

Torrential Rainstorm Pounds Manhattan, Adding To An Already Above Average Rainy July

Would you believe New York is one of them? Eric Jaffe examines a new working paper on the subject:

Some of the happiest cities measured by [economist Edward] Glaeser and company were Charlottesville, Virginia; Rochester, Minnesota; Lafayette, Louisiana; Naples, Florida; and Flagstaff, Arizona – in keeping with a classic theory that people like to go where it’s warm. Some of the least happy places were Scranton and Erie, Pennsylvania; South Bend and Gary, Indiana; New York, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

These relationships held true even after controlling for income and employment, and after considering factors like education, race, and age. … What’s more, these unhappy places tended to have unhappy histories. Glaeser and collaborators found that the connection between place and happiness held true whether they took into account long-term residents or those who just moved there. In other words, it’s not that these places were once happy and then became unhappy after just a few years of decline. Rather, in the eyes of the researchers, these are and have long been “unhappy cities.”

Ben Casselman further unpacks the research and notes:

The authors find that in past decades, places with lower levels of happiness tended to have higher average wages; more recently, less happy places have had lower average rents.

(Photo: A woman walks through the rain under an umbrella on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan on July 15, 2014 in New York City. By John Moore/Getty Images.)