United States of Happiness

Here's something I've been waiting for a long time: a comparison of self-reported happiness by state.

Utah, the wholesome Beehive State, takes the prize. But that den of sin Nevada is nipping at its heels! [Mortifying map-reading lapse!] West Virginia, home of the Robert C. Byrd memorial everything, trails the field. Iowa? As we like to say, “Could be worse.” (Proximity to Missouri is a problem.)
Having worked two summers as a tour guide at Mormon historic sites teeming with families from Provo and Logan, I'll vouch for the fact that Utahns are exceptionally chipper. Though perhaps it should be noted that some Mormons are almost ideological about the idea that they ought to be happy. (Google around for Mormon mommy blogs and enjoy all the “I'm sure glad I studied physics at BYU, but gosh nothing could POSSIBLY be more satisying than reading the same dang story to my sixth precious, precious baby for the ninety billionth time because each and every one of my perfect babies is such a blessing and there is nothing more fulfilling to me as a woman. Ted [who's so cute I let him cheat off me in physics!] is such a good provider, and sometimes he even cooks! Most days I smile so hard it hurts because Heavenly Father has truly blessed me with the best life possible.”) So I suspect a skoche of culture-driven upward inflation. 
As one would expect, there is a positive correlation between money and happiness. This general pattern is by now so well confirmed that maybe we'll stop hearing that there is no correlation between money and happiness in a couple decades of so.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center