18 December 2009

". . . last in happiness — New York state."

This interesting report from AP makes some sense to me; it is a ranking of the 50 United States on what the authors deem and "objective" study of well-being. I've not seen the original study yet. So I don't know how the authors have dealt with things like adaptive preference (low expectations) or simple obliviousness. For instance, I don't find it surprising that cold, cloudy and relatively congested states like New York fare poorly. But I wonder how Louisiana came in first. After all, the place is susceptible to hurricanes, covered in swamps and the toxic waste from petro-chemical industries, and (up north, at least) thick with Bible-thumping Christians. That, however, is just a question about this particular study. On the whole, I think work on measures of well-being beyond simple income is crucially important.



Blogger eugev44 said...

Interestingly enough, I recall seeing the Danish at the top of the list of happiest people on the planet. Apparently, however, the typical Danish response to the question, "How are you?" is: "Could be worse." It seems to be all about how you set up expectations. Based on a few recent forays into the psychology of happiness, it seems that another important thing is not whether or not something is objectively good, but simply how well one internalizes the situation. A great talk on www.ted.com deals with this, calling it "synthetic happiness". So perhaps dealing with hurricanes comes into play here when we consider the way a people are able to deal with various situations we might consider objectively depressing.

18 December, 2009 20:46  

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