Here’s a new map of well-being for America’s 350-plus metro areas. It’s based on surveys with more than one million Americans from data from the Gallup-Heathways Well-Being Index. Well-being follows the same basic bicoastal pattern as income, human capital, and the creative class, being higher on the coasts than in the Midwest and Sunbelt.
Posts Tagged ‘Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index’
That’s the overwhelming conclusion of a new Gallup-Healthways survey based on telephone interviews with 173,581 employed Americans over the past year.
The first chart shows the toll that commuting takes on physical health. Americans with longer commutes suffer higher levels of back pain, higher cholesterol, and higher levels of obesity. (more…)
Earlier this week, I discussed the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index of happy cities. Today, with the help of my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander, we take a look at some of the social, demographic, and economic factors that are associated with the happiness and well-being of cities.
There has been considerable debate on the factors that are associated with happiness and well-being at the national level. The well-known Easterlin Paradox suggested that happiness tends to level off after a certain income threshold. Psychologists, notably Edward Diener, have argued that factors such as health, challenging work, and close social relationships, among others, play a considerable role in happiness. Some have even made the case for instituting a new measure of gross national happiness to supplement conventional metrics like gross national product.
Recent studies by Princeton University’s Angus Deaton and Justin Wolfers and Betsy Stevenson of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School question the Easterlin Paradox and indicate a closer link between happiness and income across nations. Carol Graham raises the enigma of the “happy peasant and the miserable millionaire” as a way to resolve this apparent paradox. Graham suggests that happiness is relative to one’s position in society. Take unemployment for example. Unemployment is crushing for previously employed people in places where gainful employment is the norm. But people in poor countries where unemployment is more the norm find other ways to be happy. (more…)
Silicon Valley is America’s happiest big metro-region and Washington, D.C. is second, according to a new survey of America’s 52 largest metro regions by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The Gallup-Healthways data breaks down well-being into six main categories. Greater D.C. leads in life evaluation. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul lead in two categories – emotional health and basic access. Silicon Valley takes first place in two categories as well – physical health and healthy behavior.
That said, Boulder tops the list of small- and medium-size city-regions – and posts the highest happiness index score of any metro. Holland, Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Provo, Utah; and Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara, California also post higher scores than any of the larger regions.
The most unhappy metros are mainly housing-dependent Sunbelt cities of sand and Rustbelt locations that have been hard-hit by the Great Reset. Las Vegas has the dubious distinction of being America’s unhappiest large metro.
There’s no shortage of lists of the world’s happiest nations or of the happiest of the 50 U.S. states. The folks at the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index have also compiled detailed happiness scores for America’s 435 Congressional Districts (see the map below).
The table below shows the 10 highest-scoring and the 10 lowest-scoring congressional districts on the Well-Being Index. The table speaks for itself. The happiest districts are among the most affluent in the nation. Six of the top 10 are affluent and physically magnificent California communities. The least happy districts are mainly places of extreme disadvantage, inner-city neighborhoods in Detroit, Cleveland, South Philly, the Bronx, or Appalachia. There are a couple of slight anomalies – wealthy Grosse Point, Michigan, is lumped together with poor inner-city Detroit neighborhoods (wonder why that would be?), and given the devastation of greater Detroit it’s not surprising that even the rich would be less happy then elsewhere. And hipster Williamsburg is lumped together with Bed-Stuy: But, then again, whoever said hipsters were happy…
From WSJ writer Sue Shellenbarger’s Work & Family column (sub):
In the broadest, most-comprehensive survey yet of how occupation affects happiness, business owners outrank 10 other occupational groups in overall well-being, based on the landmark survey of 100,826 working adults.
The piece goes on to describe why, even during a stress-filled recession, business owners are generally happier than other working adults.
The findings, psychologists say, reflect the importance of being free to choose the work you do and how you do it, the way you manage your time, and the way you respond to adversity. Regardless of occupational field, the survey suggests that seeking out enjoyable work and finding a way to do it on your own terms, with some control over both the process and the outcome, is likely for most people to fuel satisfaction and contentment.
Does this sound like what you are seeing from entrepreneurs around you?
Check out the press release for more data and information from the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index.
How has the economic crisis affected the happiness and well-being of Americans? Newly released data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index enables us to take a look.
At the national level, not so much: The mid-year 2009 score is 65.1, a moderate decline from 65.5 in 2008. (Catherine Rampell of Economix provides a nice summary of the survey methods, indicators, and key findings.)
But, rising unemployment appears to have a significant relationship to the happiness of states, according to our analysis of the Gallup-Healthways data.
Not surprisingly, the biggest declines in overall happiness occurred in work-related well-being. The Gallup-Heathways Well-Being Index is made up of six separate sub-indexes – life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behavior, and access to basic necessities. Five of these indexes fell between 2008 and 2009, with the biggest decline occurring in the work environment index: More than three-quarters of states saw their work environment score fall in 2009.
This is broadly in line with happiness research. It had been long thought that happiness essentially levels off after a moderate income level is crossed. But an influential study by Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found a strong association between happiness and economic conditions. A 2005 study found that a significant increase in Finland’s unemployment rate (from three to 17 percent) did not produce a significant drop in overall well-being.
The new Gallup-Healthways Index also covers the 50 states. Interestingly enough, the “happiest states” in 2009 – Hawaii, Utah, and Montana – were more or less the same as in 2008; the same is true of the “unhappiest states” – West Virginia, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Drilling down a little further, Utah topped the list in life evaluation, Hawaii in emotional health, Idaho in work environment, North Dakota in physical health, Vermont in healthy behavior, and Iowa in basic access.
Still, it’s clear that the economic crisis has been harder on some states that others. Older industrial states of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio have seen their unemployment rates soar in the double digits, while the housing crisis has wreaked havoc on once fast-growing states like Florida and Arizona.
The availability of state-level data for before (2008) and after (2009) the crisis provides a useful lens for examining the effects of worsening economic conditions on state happiness.
So my collaborator, regional economist Charlotta Mellander, looked at the relationships between happiness and economic factors like output, income, and unemployment. Let me emphasize that what I am reporting here are correlations or associations. While these findings do not imply causation, they remain interesting nonetheless.
First off, the relationship between happiness and economic output has apparently become weaker. The relationship between the two which was correlated (.33) and statistically significant in 2008, is no longer so (.27 and not statistically significant in 2009).
Second, the relationship between income on happiness also seems to have weakened (falling from a correlation of .43 in 2008 to .30 in 2009 – both significant at the .01 level).
Third, unemployment appears to be the biggest short-run factor affecting state happiness. Two measures of unemployment – a higher state unemployment rate and a bigger increase in that rate between 2008 and 2009 – were associated with both lower levels of state well-being and a bigger drop in state well-being between 2008 and 2009.
The first chart graphs the relationship between 2009 state unemployment rate and state well-being. Hawaii and Utah, above the line; and West Virginia, Kentucky, and Arkansas below it, are clearly outliers. Still, the fitted line shows a reasonably close association between unemployment and happiness among states. The correlation coefficient of -.44 between the two (statistically significant at the .01 level) lends additional support to this.
The second chart graphs the relationship between state happiness and the change in the unemployment rate between 2008 and 2009. Hawaii and Utah, and West Virginia, Kentucky, and Arkansas are again outliers. But the fitted line shows a clear association between the two. And while the correlation coefficient between the two is weaker than above (-.34 and statistically significant at the 0.05 level) it nonetheless supports the association.
The connection between state happiness and unemployment also came through when we looked at the relationships between the change in state well-being between 2008 and 2009 and the two measures of unemployment – the 2009 unemployment rate and change in unemployment between 2008 and 2009. The correlations for each are statistically significant (-.30 for the 2009 unemployment rate and -.34 for change in the unemployment rate between 2008 and 2009, both significant at the .05 level).
Given all of this, it’s safe to say that unemployment plays a reasonably big role in the happiness – or should I say, unhappiness – of states.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index suggests more American are “thriving” than “struggling” - a first in more than a year.