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New Research Gives Floridians Something to Smile About

GRAPHIC: How happy are you, and how much does that matter to you? New research ranks three Florida cities among the "happiest" in the country. Graphic courtesy Flying Tiger Site, Wikimedia Commons
GRAPHIC: How happy are you, and how much does that matter to you? New research ranks three Florida cities among the "happiest" in the country. Graphic courtesy Flying Tiger Site, Wikimedia Commons
August 7, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Are Floridians happy?

Yes, at least when compared with people in other parts of the country, researchers say.

A working paper from researchers using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System lists the happiest and unhappiest cities in the country.

Three Florida cities – Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Naples – made the top of the list when it comes to happiest cities.

Joshua Gottlieb, assistant professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, says Florida was in good company.

"Louisiana tended to do particularly well,” he says. “Hawaii – you won't be surprised – also reports high life satisfaction.

“Educated areas also tend to have higher life satisfaction."

No Florida cities made the unhappy list that is topped by Scranton, Pennsylvania and New York City, but Gottlieb says because many people still choose to live in these areas, it shows they still have something to offer.

He explains it appears people seem to trade off happiness over other things they might value more such as living close to family, higher income or lower cost of living.

Gottlieb says the fact that people seem to be willing to make active choices to trade off happiness against other factors suggests that policymakers and researchers shouldn't act as though happiness is an overriding objective.

He says it's not a top priority for many people, and that's OK.

"Having a child may reduce your happiness, or moving to a more competitive city may reduce your happiness,” he points out. “People are capable of making these tradeoffs, and we shouldn't interfere with that. We should let them decide what's important to them."

No southern cities made the unhappy list, according to the research.

The closest unhappy area was in Evansville, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; and areas of West Virginia.




Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL