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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

South Dakota: Unhappiest Home on the Prairie?

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2009 is out, and South Dakota Tourism will not be trumpeting the results. According to this survey, we have a lower happiness score than any neighboring state (click image to enlarge):
Now these scores are on a 100-point scale, and the difference between the happiest state (Utah at 69.2) and the lowest (West Virginia at 61.2) is only 8 points. So I suppose you could argue that all those extra taxes they pay over in the People's Democratic Republic of Minnesota aren't buying them much more happiness.

Then again, I could argue that even with all their radical socialism, Minnesotans are still happier than we no-tax, anarcho-capitalist South Dakotans.

The researchers based their ratings on interviews with 350,000 Americans throughout 2008. The respondents rated their "overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction."

The researchers warn this is all generalization: you can still find Pollyannas and crab apples in every state (though not in the blogosphere; we're all pretty much crab apples here ;-) ). Nonetheless, the researchers did find that states with higher happiness tended to have...
  1. higher GDP per capita
  2. higher median housing values
  3. more educated workers with "super-creative" jobs (ooo, that's me!)
  4. bohemians (you know: us artsy-fartsy types!)
  5. homosexuals
  6. foreigners.
Bohemians, homosexuals, and foreigners... sounds like a recipe for a heck of a party!


  1. Wyomigites pay even less taxes than we do, and they're No. 3. They're about as red as a state can get.

    I doubt that tax rates or political leanings have much to do with happiness. But poverty might play a role, no?

  2. Or it's about restrictive thought and the benefits that come without it.

  3. How about doing a separate report for the reservation and non-reservation residents? I think you would have a different outcome. That relates back to poverty as stated by Stan. And no, please don't resort to a racist, bigoted claim for me; I am not. Statistics can be used to prove any point, but you have to look behind the statistics to how and why they were developed to realize that they can be skewed to obtain any outcome you want to achieve.

  4. Most of that crabbiness is Bob Ellis and Sibby, don't you think, Cory?

  5. Happy people have more wealth and are more likely to be in jobs doing the things they love rather than just for a paycheck and are more likely to have come from some country where life was truly crappy.

    Another report of the obvious, hooray Gallup. And hooray CAH for immediately reading politics into the results for SD. I'd be happier in MN too, even if their policies are nutty: I like lakes.


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