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Why Does Everyone Want to Visit America’s Unhappiest City?

New York City

New York City—fun to visit, but not so fun to live there? According to a new study released by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, New York, NY is the country’s unhappiest metropolitan area. The study, conducted by Joshua Gottlieb of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economic Research, used self-reported levels of happiness from participants in the General Social Survey, the National Survey of Families and Households, and the Centers from Disease Control.

Factors like cost of living and weather (warmer winters had a link to higher happiness levels) could explain why Richmond–Petersburg, VA, was ranked as the happiest city.

According to the study, the top 10 unhappiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million are:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Louisville, KY
  4. Milwaukee, WI
  5. Detroit, MI
  6. Indianapolis, IN
  7. St. Louis, MO
  8. Las Vegas, NV
  9. Buffalo, NY
  10. Philadelphia, PA

The happiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million are:

  1. Richmond-Petersburg, VA
  2. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Raleigh-Durham, NC
  5. Atlanta, GA
  6. Houston, TX
  7. Jacksonville, FL
  8. Nashville, TN
  9. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
  10. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ

More generally, the happiest American regions are:

  1. Charlottesville, VA
  2. Rochester, MN
  3. Lafayette, LA
  4. Naples, FL
  5. Baton Rouge, LA
  6. Flagstaff, LA
  7. Shreveport, LA
  8. Houma, LA
  9. Corpus Christi, TX
  10. Provo, UT

The unhappiest regions are:

  1. Scranton, PA
  2. St. Joseph, MO
  3. Erie, PA
  4. South Bend, IN
  5. Jersey City, NJ
  6. Johnstown, PA
  7. Non-metropolitan West Virginia
  8. Springfield, MA
  9. New York, NY
  10. Evansville-Henderson, IN-KY


Have you visited any of the happiest or unhappiest places in the survey? Tell us in the comments.

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