Of course you are familiar with the Oswalt/Wu index of life satisfaction. The two scientists have published a paper in Science magazine (see abstract), based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UCLA research, that surprisingly places Louisiana first among our 50 states--plus the District of Columbia--and New York last. Is this because hurricanes make people happy (or the excess drinking and smoking?) and because New Yorkers love to complain?
What's the matter, Washington? Still bummed about the election results?
The two researchers don't draw many conclusions from their study, which places Washington at No. 36, with Oregon six positions ahead of us. Oregon? What does Oregon have to be cheerful about? And sunny California is ranked No. 46. After the jump, the full Oswalt/Wu rankings and some external factors that may explain our relative misery...Published last Thursday, the study has a sample size of 1.3 million Americans. Factors assessed included rain, sunshine, national parks, commute time, violent crime, taxes, and cost of living.
Okay, the rain we get. That probably bumped us down a position or two. And it would make sense that sunshine states like Hawaii and Florida are near the top of the list. Likewise, economically collapsing Michigan makes sense at No. 48.
But No. 36? Is our traffic really that bad? Are we really worse off than Kentucky and West Virginia--in the heart of the Stroke Belt, states that lead the nation in black lung disease?
We're only guessing, but perhaps Oswalt and Wu failed to account for the daily pleasure we Northwesterners take in recycling, smugness, correcting other people, discussing seasonal microbrews, and debating the merits of AWD station wagons.
Or maybe we don't fully appreciate the depressive power of terrible sports teams, unceasing political process, the failure of WaMu, never-ending winter gloom, and loss of the second Boeing 787 Dreamliner plant to South Carolina--which is ranked No. 8.
Wait...now that we think about it, maybe No. 36 is too high.
The full Oswalt/Wu national rankings, from happiness to wrist-slitting misery:
8. South Carolina
12. North Carolina
15. South Dakota
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
27. New Hampshire
34. West Virginia
37. District of Columbia
42. Rhode Island
49. New Jersey
51. New York