The study was conducted by Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England and Stephen Wu, an economist at Hamilton College in New York. Oswald and Wu sought to connect the subjective perception of "happiness" to more objective indicia.
The happiest states:
8. South Carolina
Live Science reports:
[The] results come from a comparison of two data sets of happiness levels in each state, one that relied on participants' self-reported well-being and the other an objective measure that took into account a state's weather, home prices and other factors that are known reasons to frown (or smile).Live Science noted:
The self-reported information came from 1.3 million U.S. citizens who took part in a survey between 2005 and 2008.
"We wanted to study whether people's feelings of satisfaction with their own lives are reliable, that is, whether they match up to reality — of sunshine hours, congestion, air quality, etc — in their own state," Oswald said.
The results showed the two measures matched up. "We were stunned when it first came up on our screens, because no one has ever managed to produce a clear validation before of subjective well-being, or happiness, data," Oswald said.
In addition to rating the smile factor of U.S. states, the research also proved for the first time that a person's self-reported happiness matches up with objective measures of well-being.The study does have something of a flaw, however. The subjective reporting data, which placed Louisiana at the top of the "Happy States" list, was collected before Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.
Essentially, if an individual says they're happy, they are.
"When human beings give you an answer on a numerical scale about how satisfied they are with their lives, it is best to pay attention. Their answers are reliable," said Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England. "This suggests that life-satisfaction survey data might be very useful for governments to use in the design of economic and social policies," Oswald said.