Cities

Correction: Story on 'Worst States To Live In' Was Based on Old Data

|

Earlier today I posted a story here titled, "Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island Top List of 'Worst States To Live In,' But Why?"

The piece was mostly based on an article in The Daily Mail that incorrectly used 2013 data from Gallup. As a result, the entire piece is wrong and irrelevant. I regret the error.

Original text:

Gallup recently asked Americans whether they agree that their home state is the "worst possible state to live in." In Illinois, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, nearly a quarter of respondents said hell yes. Such levels of discontent was nearly matched by folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and New Jersey. See your state's result below.

What explains such self-loathing? The worst states include rural places and industrialized (and post-industrial) places; they're also geographically, meteorologically, and demographically mixed. They're rich (New Jersey) and poor (Mississippi). None is western, but Nevada and New Mexico are nipping at their heels. When you look at the happiest states (or, more accurately, the states whose residents were least likely to piss on themselves), you find a similarly wide spread. Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Maine register only 1 percent to 2 percent of malcontents. Some of these states (Texas, North Dakota) are going gangbusters in terms of jobs but others (Maine, Wisconsin) are not. Many (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado) are Mountain West, with all that confers, but others are frigid, semi-apocalyptic landscapes (Minnesota, North Dakota).

As The Daily Mail reports, confusion reigns in a list of the country's 25 happiest metro areas as well (see full list after the jump). California tops the rankings, with eight cities in the list, but otherwise does kind of meh in overall state-level happiness. Texas manages to place only one area (Austin-Round Rock) in the top 25. Colorado is well-represented by three metro areas that almost certainly account for a majority of the state's population.

Another Gallup poll, one that links "satisfaction with life" and political ideology, might shed some light on the disjunctures. Over the past year, Gallup reports, self-identified Republicans think things are going much better in America than they used to. Fully 90 percent of Republicans are somewhat or very satisfied with "overall quality of life" these days, compared to 76 percent of Democrats. And what a difference a year makes: In 2017, the Republican number was 74 percent while the Democrat number was 85 percent. That kind of maps on to many of these results. Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York are anti-Trump bastions that are also taking the exclusion of state-and-local taxes on the chin. Many of the happier states went red in the last election too.

But there's certainly no simple, convincing explanation for any of the "worst possible state to live in" results. When it comes to whether it's morning or mourning in America, partisanship seems the likely culprit. Gallup notes that aggregate opinions about quality of life, the ability to get ahead, the fairness of income distribution, and the moral climate of the country haven't changed much at all (between just 3 percentage points or less on each topic). But when you look at how Democrats and Republicans view these things, huge swings are evident. For instance, Republicans are nine points more likely to say we are a moral country today than a year ago while Dems are 14 points less likely to do so. Dems are in a funk while conservatives are giddy these days.

And where are libertarians or independents (who make up 40 percent of the electorate) when it comes to all this? Gallup doesn't bother to ask, so you'll have to let us know in the comments.

Gallup/Daily Mail

Gallup/Daily Mail

Here is the list of America's "25 Happiest Cites," based on "an index to measure a population's happiness based on 15 metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthful food options."

  1. Boulder, CO
  2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
  3. Charlottesville, VA
  4. Fort Collins, CO
  5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA
  6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  7. Provo-Orem, UT
  8. Bridgeport-Stamford, CT
  9. Barnstable Town, MA
  10. Anchorage, AK
  11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL
  12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA
  13. Salinas, CA
  14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
  15. Urban Honolulu, HI
  16. Ann Arbor, MI
  17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  18. Colorado Springs, CO
  19. Manchester-Nashua, NH
  20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
  21. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  23. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  24. Portland-South Portland, ME
  25. Austin-Round Rock, TX

NEXT: Immigration Is the Only Thing Saving Connecticut From an Even Worse Budget Crisis

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I call bullshit on the surveys.

    “Here is the list of America’s “25 Happiest Cites,” based on “an index to measure a population’s happiness based on 15 metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthful food options.”

    Who the hell says those are the metrics for happiness??!!

    How about happiness based on individual freedom from government regulations, taxes, and licensing requirements?? Huh? How about those metrics????
    How about availability of good bar-b-que and fried foods?
    How late night pizza delivery?
    How about easy ballot access?
    How about thinking the unthinkable, that everyone has a different definition of happiness?? OMG!!!

    1. Thanks, I feel better now.

    2. It almost sounds like options tuned to make Boulder Colorado number 1.

    3. How about thinking the unthinkable, that everyone has a different definition of happiness??

      1. My declaration that that’s simply crazy-talk was eaten by the aether. I demand an explanation.

        *looks around suspiciously*

    4. “an index to measure a population’s happiness based on 15 metrics including arbitrary stuff we think is important.”

      FTFY

    5. Its urban planners and public health officials who get to decide what makes us happy-what part of that don’t you understand?

    6. Venezuela has civic engagement and walkability. Healthful food options, not so much. Even any food options, not so much.

    7. How about thinking the unthinkable,

      Hooker to John ratio?

    8. How does the amount of self-loathing correlate with the amount of porn consumption?

      1. Hey look it’s that asshole who was wrong and threw a hissyfit when he was corrected, then doubled down.

        CBM makes a fool of himself

  2. “an index to measure a population’s happiness based on 15 metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthful food options.”

    Those are, uh, some interesting criteria for “happiness.”

    I do miss Charlottesville, though.

    1. It no longer is what you think it was, nor is the entire commonwealth.

      1. That’s pretty cool how you’re able to read my mind. What am i thinking right now?

        1. You’re thinking about how much you hate Domestic Dissident.

    2. I lived in C-ville for a year back in the early 2000s and it was a really nice town then, they even had a libertarian on the city council, IIRC.

      1. I was there for the first half of the aughts, so we overlapped at some point. Great scenery, lots of stuff to do, and i don’t know how it is now but any political dumbfuckery was mostly just noise back then.

        1. Nobody complained about statues, that’s for sure!

  3. I note that my home state of Pennsylvania seems to have a pretty low self-loathing rating, probably because being next to New York and New Jersey does wonders for our self-esteem. We’d probably look even better if you didn’t count responses from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg residents.

    1. Fact: the only Penna respondent was Fist.

      1. Filthacrapia drags the rest of the state down.

  4. 1. Boulder, CO

    Mork from Ork approves this message…Nanu nanu

  5. “”based on “an index to measure a population’s happiness “”

    the results of any index are generally less interesting than the methodology of the index itself, yet all journalists are ever smart enough to do is go, “here is a list, this is news””

    1. It’s especially frustrating when it’s an exceptionally vague metric such as happiness. I’m less skeptical when it’s a more objective value, like “Tallest wal-mart employees” or something. Happiness is a bit harder to pin down.

      1. It’s especially frustrating when it’s an exceptionally vague metric such as happiness

        and it gets funnier when you discover that one groups’ social-science index is based on cross-referencing other people’s indexes. its a bottomless rabbit-hole of bullshit methodology.

        Any idiot can come up with some weighted combination of stats that are likely more-valid and convincing than the ones contrived by the people who cook up these lists.

        “”….It topped a list of 25 of America’s happiest cities, revealed in the book The Blue Zones of Happiness, by National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner.

        Along with National Geographic and Gallup, he developed an index to measure a population’s happiness based on 15 metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthful food options

        oh, excuse me; the “one guy” who slapped together 15 completely arbitrary measures, most of which are themselves entirely subjective

        Its actually just the appearance of methodology, not the actual substance of one.

        If we play that game: I visited santa cruz a few times. Its probably the only place on earth i’ve ever seen young, healthy white people begging in the streets. Why? because they were lazy stoners. I wouldn’t piss on santa cruz if it were on fire.

        1. “but man, they have like, 5 veggie burrito places within walking distance.”

        2. I used to love the Places Rated Almanac when I was young – and they were honest about this exact problem. Sure, they would declare a “winner” but they were careful to stress that you have to pick your own criteria to come up with your own answer.

          young, healthy white people begging in the streets

          I think you see that in any California city beginning with “San(ta)”

          1. I think you see that in any California city beginning with “San(ta)”

            It has more to do with proximity to certain colleges and universities. You see this in Berkeley, also, but you do not see this in San Ramon, San Carlos, or Santa Maria.

            1. “”you do not see this in San Ramon, San Carlos, or Santa Maria.””

              Im going to guess you’re more likely to find young, enterprising brown people offering to sell you low-grade weed. VASTLY PREFERRED. Entrepreneurs! plus, the burritos have meat in them.

            2. Stay away from anywhere in California that starts with B.

        3. Its actually just the appearance of methodology, not the actual substance of one.

          The dead giveaway is that Salinas CA is even on the list. Salinas, by any objective measure (or subjective opinion of anyone who’s ever lived/been there), is a shithole.

        4. That’s OK, there are plenty of lazy stoners pissing on it already.

    2. They’d be statisticians of they had that ability. Or something else useful.

  6. The fact that the DC area is on the list of the 25 happiest places should tell you that it is complete BS. I do not know many people around here who are happy.

    1. But civic engagement is through the roof! What more could you possibly need?

      1. A subway that doesn’t spontaneously combust.

  7. an index to measure a population’s happiness based on 15 metrics including civic engagement

    I think I see the reason that Chicago was ranked so poorly. They forgot to poll the dead people!

  8. Any “happiness” surveys, I take with a grain of salt, because people value different things.

    Even surveys that ask people if they are happy is suspect, because what people say may not match how they feel.

    1. My mother in law would never be happy in a European size apartment.

  9. And Utah is at the top of the states list, proving that right wing religious fundamentalism makes people happy, just as California’s progressive policies give them high GDP. QED.

    1. UT in general goes against the “red states are poor, uneducated, backwards shitholes” meme

    2. proving that right wing religious fundamentalism makes people happy

      Don’t forget the land-locked, inhospitable desert landscape!

  10. but others are frigid, semi-apocalyptic landscapes (Minnesota, North Dakota).

    Why do I get the sense that Nick has never actually been to either state except maybe landing in the airport at the twin cities.

  11. Hmm.. 7 of the 25 are all in California.. Go figure.. I thought ‘Everybody hated living in California!’ … I don’t I love it here. in fact, I took a job with a lot of traveling to see if my family could find somewhere else preferable to move to… Aside from Colorado (and nope.. Can’t deal with that much cold..) after 8 years on the road, we stayed.

  12. You realize that they publish these “surveys” just for click-bait? There is no science behind the survey, other than the science of marketing the ads that come with the stupid article. Walkability? What place is not walkable? How about parkability. That is a real problem. I can walk ANYWHERE. Healthful food? Where can you not find water and edible plants? Are there really restaurants that serve only healthy food and force you to eat it? Civic engagement? It is not likely that my civic engagement, going to City Council meetings to complain constantly is not a sign of my happiness? Gallup actually got paid for this crap. Next survey will be “stupidest surveys ever contrived?”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.