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Dr. Helen

It seems that people pick places to live on other variables than happiness:

If New York is so unhappy, why do so many people keep living there? That’s one of the many questions at stake in a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia used people’s self-reported life satisfaction data from the CDC to try to determine a geography of American happiness. What they found is that among the biggest metropolitan areas, the Big Apple is the unhappiest. Scranton, Pennsylvania, takes the honor of the least happy metro area of any size. Meanwhile, Richmond is the happiest large metro area, and Charlottesville, Virginia, is the happiest of any size…..

The data also carries in it an insight into how people make major life choices. If people only sought to live in happy places, cities like Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia would be swamped with people, while New York would be desolate. Clearly, that hasn’t happened.

“One interpretation of these facts is that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, as measured in surveys, and they willingly endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs,” they write.

That said, places with low income growth and low population growth also tend to be particularly unhappy, both currently and historically.

“[C]ities that have declined also seem to have been unhappy in the past, which suggests that … these areas were always unhappy — and that was one reason why they declined,” write the authors.

The upshot seems to be that people make decisions based on happiness, but only on a limited basis. So at least in the economics world, there’s more to life than being happy.

It seems that people go where the money or jobs are earlier in life and then often move to places that make them happy or that have lower taxes when they retire or maybe lower taxes makes them happy as they have more time to do other things with their money. The problem is that people ruin these places such as NYC etc. with their politics and then move to the lower tax states such as the South to retire and then try to ruin these places with their politics and the cycle continues.

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All Comments   (6)
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(Cross-post from PJ Lifestyle:

As noted in a song by the brilliant musical humorist Anna Russell several decades ago, some people prefer a full-time career in victimhood to happiness:

(Set at 6 minutes 18 seconds; if it doesn't go there automatically as instructed in the link, that's where her song "Miserable" is.)

The Mamas & The Papas noted something similar in "Glad to be Unhappy" which is one of their less well-known but rather witty songs:

As many of these full-time professional victims (with their gobs of ill-gotten cash, obscenely expensive New Age therapists on call, and multiple stormy love affairs and messy divorces and devastated offspring left in their wake) know, constant complaining about certain kinds of problems (sometimes known as "diseases of the rich") makes you popular with a certain illegitimately powerful political crowd, and pays a pretty good salary too.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then there are those of us who are conservative politically and culturally who left our pleasant, but economically stagnant rural home towns to find better jobs. We spend decades working in liberal population centers where our views are totally negated. Meanwhile, the liberals who hail from the urban centers eventually retire, often to our pleasant rural home towns, where, flush with money from the sale of their urban houses, and with time on their hands, they live the retired high life and insinuate themselves into local politics, slowly negating the features that made our home towns so desirable.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The problem is that people ruin these places such as NYC etc. with their politics and then move to the lower tax states such as the South to retire and then try to ruin these places with their politics and the cycle continues."

I give you Asheville NC...
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have some good friends who have done exactly as described. Fervent Democrats whose jobs disappeared in Illinois moved for work to Austin, TX, and took their always Democrat votes with them. If they have learned anything from the experience, it's not visible to me.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I doubt the people who can actually play enough politics to make a place bad would leave it and go somewhere else. The people who go to work in NYC and save and buy a small condo there which they pay for over the rest of their working lives are normally not the ones who can influence politics. They are the ones who on retiring sell the condo for a good profit and buy a big house in the south with 10% of the sale price and put the rest of the money in bonds to fund their retirement.....and they belong to the group who are totally incapable of influencing things politically in any part of the world....the middle class.

The ones who can spoil places(the big guys with their lobbying and change of land use and influencing interest rates and everything else in between) and the lower class guys living for generations on welfare in exchange for votes never leave a place....they stay there because they have fine tuned their gaming skills to maximize the profit they make out of the place they are currently staying.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment

"Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
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