Welcome to the state of happiness
I can’t think of anything I would rather talk about for the first column of the new year than happiness.
And if last year wasn’t a real happy one for you, I’m here to tell you that based on a newly published survey, you were a lot happier than most people in the country.
Last month a survey was published that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measuring happiness. Economist Andrew J. Oswald, of the University of Warwick in England, and Stephen Wu, of Hamilton College in Clinton, N. Y., used data collected from 1.3 million people across the country to compile their happiness ratings.
The survey used data collected over four years that included a question asking people how satisfied they are with their lives. Then they compared the happiness ranking with studies that rated states on a variety of criteria including weather, violence, congestion, housing affordability, taxes, availability of public land and commuting time.
Not surprisingly, the happiest people tend to live in the states that do well in quality-of-life studies. Part of their conclusion was also based on the Centers for Disease Control Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collected from 2005 to 2008, which collects information on a variety of health measures.
The top five happiest states out of 51 surveyed (including the District of Columbia) are; Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee and Arizona. The scientists did caution that part of the survey was conducted prior to Hurricane Katrina, however, in spite of that, they have no reason to think the outcome would have been different for Louisiana.
The bottom five states were New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Michigan and Indiana. The survey points out that this is the first objective validation of happiness data.
Originally from the state that was dead last, I was a little surprised that my home state, which I love and frequently miss, was at the bottom. New York City and its surrounding suburbs make up most of the state’s population and have some of the best, or maybe the best, access to culture, restaurants and excitement in the country.
Even the weather is mostly moderate without frequent snow storms, cold temperatures and extreme heat. But, as the report stated people who think states like New York and California would be marvelous places to live in quickly find out that the congestion, taxes, expensive services and housing can make one unhappy real fast.
So what’s the point and purpose of a happiness survey? It is suggested that the life-satisfaction survey data might be very useful for governments to use in the design of economic and social policies, or how about using this information to promote the desirability of living in certain states, like Florida. If I were actively selling real estate today, I would be sending this survey to every one of my out of state clients.
Throughout this entire real estate downturn, I’ve been reminding everyone about the assets of living in Florida – no state income tax, great weather, good medical service, first class beaches and miles of shoreline, friendly people and affordable housing. Now we can add to this already impressive list something we all already knew, Floridians are really happy.
OK baby boomers, if you were unhappy last year fighting the cold, congestion and high taxes, all you have to do is hop in your car and drive south for some Southern hospitality. The South will rise again, and the real estate market is where it will begin.