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Well-Being across America

  • Andrew J. Oswald

    (IZA Research Institute and Department of Economics University of Warwick, U.K.)

  • Stephen Wu

    (Hamilton College)

This paper uses Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to study life satisfaction and mental health across the geography of the United States. The analysis draws on a sample of 1.3 million citizens. Initially we control for people's personal characteristics (though not income). There is no correlation between states' regression-adjusted well-being and their GDP per capita. States like Louisiana, plus Washington, D.C., have high psychological well-being levels; California and West Virginia have low well-being. When we control for incomes, satisfaction with life is lower in richer states, just as compensating-differentials theory would predict. Nevertheless, some puzzles remain. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1118-1134

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:4:p:1118-1134
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