Whether money leads to happiness is a source of perennial debate. But a new report from fintech company SmartAsset, citing research from the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that a correlation between happiness and income growth does exist.
Penn researchers found that the correlation persists even when annual income exceeds $80,000, in contrast to earlier findings that happiness tends to stagnate after an individual’s income reaches $75,000.
SmartAsset noted, however, that some cities can offer a higher level of happiness than others. These places have more economic opportunities and a better quality of life.
To identify the places where Americans are happiest, researchers analyzed the 200 largest U.S. cities, of which 164 had available data. They considered 13 metrics across these three categories:
- Percent of individuals earning $100,000 or more
- Cost of living as a percent of income
- Personal bankruptcy filings per 100,000 residents
- Home downpayment-to-income ratio
- Percent reporting poor mental health days
- Life expectancy
- Percent who report physical inactivity
- Percent of adults with health insurance
Quality of life
- Percent of adults living below the poverty level
- Marriage rate
- Average commute time
- Concentration of fining, bars and entertainment establishments
- Violent crime rate
Researchers ranked each place in every metric, calculated an average ranking and score for each category, then averaged the three category scores to come with a final one.
See the gallery for the 15 happiest places, according to SmartAsset.
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