Our city 8th happiest in the United States
Irvine ranked 8th happiest out of 180 largest cities in the country, based on a look at data analyzing 28 key indicators of happiness, including quality of sleep, depression rates, income-growth rates, and daily leisure time.
The five happiest cities according to the study are Fremont, California; Bismarck, North Dakota; San Jose, California; Pearl City, Hawaii; and Plano, Texas. The least happy city is Detroit, Michigan.
Irvine ranked 1st in the nation with the lowest unemployment rate and third in share of households earning above $75,000. Irvine was 2nd in sports participation rate, behind Seattle and ahead of Portland.
The city also ranked 2nd in having the lowest rate of separation and divorce in the country, and ranked 4th highest in life expectancy. Lower rankings in income growth rate (125th) and job security (120th) kept the city from ranking higher overall.
The data crunched in the study was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many other sources, as well as studies correlating specific data to happiness. Researchers have long studied the science of happiness and found that its key ingredients include a positive mental state, healthy body, strong social connections, job satisfaction and financial well-being. The study then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities.
California had the highest number of happy cities on the list, including Fremont and San Jose ahead of Irvine, and Huntington Beach just behind. Last year, a similar ranking of states by WalletHub had only Minnesota, Utah and Hawaii as happier than California. Nebraska came in after California, rounding out the top five happiest states, according to the study.
As far as happy countries go, the United States didn’t fare quite as well, according to a separate study called the World Happiness Report. Finland ranked No. 1 in the global survey that analyzes the state of happiness. The U.S. was 18th out of 156 countries.
The study is based on data from Gallup World Poll surveys that ask citizens to weigh in on happiness factors such as income, life expectancy, freedom, trust, social support and generosity. The rest of the top 10 include Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
Interestingly, the study also ranked countries by the happiness of its immigrant population, and those rankings closely matched the happiness of the nation over all.
We’d love to see “if California were a country” comparisons, ranking the state on the global scale against the countries. We’re certain the Golden State would break into the top 10, especially if weather is taken into account. Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland? Brrr!
Still, we do like a quote we saw from Finish diplomat Päivi Luostarinen about her country: “The most important building blocks for a happy society are democracy, equality, good education, and high-quality child care, as well as taking care of each other. These values are very important for Finns.”
Important for Irvine-ites as well, we might add.