2017 Happiest Cities In America, According To WalletHub

While it’s often said that happiness is a state of mind rather than a place, we can’t deny that location plays somewhat of a role in our mood. For years, researchers have studied the science behind happiness and found its key ingredients include a healthy physique, a positive mental state, strong social connections, financial well-being, and job satisfaction.

But like the old saying goes, you can’t buy happiness. According to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, wealth only follows happiness up to an income level of $75,000 a year.

In hopes of proving we can attain or aspire a happier life depending on where we choose to live, WalletHub’s data team drew upon the findings of positive psychology research to determine which city among 150 of the largest U.S. cities is home to the happiest people in America.

Source: WalletHub

WalletHub examined each city based on 30 key indicators of happiness, ranging from depression rate to income-growth rate, to average leisure time spent per day.

Methodology

To figure out which cities made the list, WalletHub’s analysts compared 150 of the largest cities across three key dimensions: Emotional and Physical Well-Being (50 points), Income and Employment (25 points), and Community and Environment (25 points).

The analysts then evaluated these categories using 30 relevant metrics. Each metric was then graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing maximum happiness.

Scores were calculated for each city based on its weighted average across all metrics – these scores were then used as the resulting scores to construct their final ranking.

Did Your City Make the Cut?

Can’t find your humble abode below? See the full list here.

Overall Rank City Total Score ‘Emotional & Physical Well-Being’ Rank ‘Income & Employment’ Rank ‘Community & Environment’ Rank
1 Fremont, CA 77.55 2 1 1
2 San Jose, CA 75.79 1 3 15
3 Irvine, CA 70.99 5 9 6
4 San Francisco, CA 69.20 3 2 101
5 Sioux Falls, SD 67.63 10 21 3
6 Huntington Beach, CA 67.32 6 11 45
7 San Diego, CA 65.80 8 7 40
8 Oakland, CA 65.52 4 34 119
9 Santa Rosa, CA 65.29 20 15 23
10 Washington, DC 65.14 13 6 65
11 Chula Vista, CA 64.82 15 27 17
12 Santa Clarita, CA 64.79 17 29 29
13 Scottsdale, AZ 64.61 34 12 2
14 Garden Grove, CA 64.35 11 45 43
15 Madison, WI 64.28 28 13 22
16 Gilbert, AZ 63.87 37 4 9
17 Overland Park, KS 63.86 32 17 20
18 Anaheim, CA 63.48 14 37 62
19 Plano, TX 63.43 30 14 41
20 Glendale, CA 63.43 16 70 27


The Breakdown

According to an official press release, WalletHub’s analysts used the following articles as a guide for their research:

  • Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity (Chan and Diener, 2010)
  • Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences (Bhattacharjee and Mogilner, 2014)
  • Sports Participation and Happiness: Evidence from U.S. Micro Data (Huang and Humphreys, 2010)
  • Unhappy Cities (Glaeser, et al., 2014)

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Emotional & Physical Well-Being – Total Points: 50

  • Emotional-Health Index: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Life-Satisfaction Index: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Expressions of Happiness: Half Weight (~1.92 Points)
    Note: This metric uses data from org, which measures personal expressions of happiness or pleasure on social media.
  • Depression Rate: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Suicide Rate: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Adequate-Sleep Rate: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Physical-Health Index: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Sports-Participation Rate: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Obesity Rate: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Binge-Drinking Rate: Half Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Heart-Disease Rate: Half Weight (~1.92 Points)
  • Illness & Disability Index: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Life Expectancy: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)
  • Food-Insecurity Rate: Full Weight (~3.85 Points)

Income & Employment – Total Points: 25

  • Income-Growth Rate: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
  • Share of Households Earning Annual Incomes Above $75,000: Half Weight (~3.33 Points)
  • Poverty Rate: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
  • Job Satisfaction: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
  • Job Security: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the probability of unemployment.
  • Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
  • Number of Weekly Work Hours: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
  • Commute Time: Half Weight (~1.67 Points)

Community & Environment – Total Points: 25

  • Strength of Social Ties: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on responses to Sharecare’s RealAge® Test and was used in our report in order to highlight the places where relationships with family and friends are stronger, as living in these places will surely provide an upside on one’s social life as well.
  • Population-Growth Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Volunteer Rate: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
  • Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Ideal Weather: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
    Note: This metric uses data from WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather
  • Acres of Parkland per 1,000 Residents: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
  • Number of Attractions: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
  • Average Leisure Time Spent per Day: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

[Feature Image by Pixabay]

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