Data Happy

In 2017, Gallup conducted 160,498 phone interviews nationally and they declare that their data projects to 95% of the US adult population.

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of American Well-Being report, happiness can be measured (and predicted?) with 5 attributes:PURPOSE: enjoying your daily life and having motivation to achieve goalsSOCIAL: having supportive and loving relationshipsFINANCIAL: managing your budget to reduce stressCOMMUNITY: feeling safe, being proud of, and liking where you livePHYSICAL: being healthy and energeticAlthough these measures may be valid, self-reported information gathered from surveys is predictably unreliable.

The questions and answers are both subjective.

Michael Argyle et al.

(1999) explains that the attainable data from surveys is unable to explain more than 15% of the variation in life satisfaction.

This translates to our inability to predict wellness on an individual scale with the survey data.

More objective measures like health conditions of an entire population show promise for the ability to predict well-being in the future.

According to Clark et al.

(2018), mental health “explains more variation in well-being than physical health does,” a finding that is confirmed by the World Happiness Report.

Despite criticisms of the self-reported survey in order to measure happiness, Ortiz-Espina and Roser’s argue that, “survey-based measures of happiness and life satisfaction do provide a reasonably consistent and reliable picture of subjective well-being.

” Check that article out.

There are some deluxe visualizations, and data on a global-scale.

The following table from Kahneman and Krueger (2006) lists additional variables that researchers have found to be connected to self-reported happiness and life satisfaction.

National FindingsI live in Brooklyn, so this is from a New York perspective.

Check out the full report to find your state’s ranking.

Gallup’s results placed New York City at the bottom of the 2nd quantile with the rank of 75th overall (out of 186).

NYC’s strengths lied in the physical attribute, and did fairly well in the social and community aspects, but struggled with finances and purpose.

More butta, more betta.

Five states are home to 17 out of the 25 happiest communities: California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Surprised?The communities with the lowest well-being scores are: Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma; Canton-Massillon, Ohio; Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, North Carolina; Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Flint, Michigan.

Not as surprising.

Where you live doesn’t cause you to be happy or unhappy, but there are some undeniable correlations.

Living in a highly populated area will give you a higher score in the physical and financial aspects of well-being, but rural residents typically report a higher community score than urbanites.

Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL ranked in the top 2 of all the measured aspects of Gallup’s well-being assessment.

The town has come together to promote healthier eating habits in schools and businesses, created large exercise events, and the City health plan has caused the healthcare costs to come in well below the national reported medical inflation.

They have found preemptive methods like preventing obesity, deterring tobacco use, decreasing loneliness, addressing mental illness, and rehabilitating those suffering from drug addiction early, which are much more effective than any reactive treatment.

The graph below shows the average life satisfaction over time in Mexico.

The spikes in life satisfaction can be attributed to national events like the sharp increase in happiness coinciding with free long distance calls in 2015 and a drop in life satisfaction when gasoline prices soared in 2017.

2019 World Happiness ReportPredicting Happiness with Data ScienceData Science is innovating new and more objective ways of measuring human emotion and wellness.

New technology has developed ways to detect identity and emotional state from a distance by measuring facial features related to expression, gait, and voice.

A new commercial software called FaceReader uses an artificial neural network algorithm trained on more than 10,000 faces to predict emotions like anger or happiness with high levels of accuracy (above 90% for these two).

Sentiment analysis could also be used to predict well-being and emotion from written text.

Computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text, especially in order to determine whether the writer’s attitude towards a particular topic or product is positive, negative, or neutral.

Sentiment analysis has been used in predictive modeling for stock market prices, but holds potential for being used for predicting well-being.

Our workplace culture, where we live, and current events all have influences on our overall happiness.

but many believe their happiness comes from an inner locus of control.

They believe they are responsible for their own happiness.

David Steindl-Rast said in his TED Talk that gratefulness is the key to happiness.

“If we are grateful, we are not fearful.

If we are not fearful, we are not violent.

” He emphasizes mindfulness and always living in the moment are the secrets to happiness.

Dan Gilbert says, “we have within us the very commodity we are constantly chasing.

” In his talk he compares synthesized happiness with natural happiness and reveals there is not much difference between the two.

He contends that happiness can be self-manufactured.

Listen to his TED talk for some interesting facts about happiness and life satisfaction.

Regardless of your current ranking on the World Happiness Report, I hope someday you can find yourself waking up with a smile, and allowing yourself to be unconditionally happy.

Wednesday emerging from the Harmony HutArgyle, M.

, Kahneman, D.

, Diener, E.

, & Schwarz, N.


Wellbeing: The foundations of hedonic psychology.

Russell Sage Foundation.

Clark, A.


, Flèche, S.

, Layard, R.

, Powdthavee, N.

, & Ward, G.


The origins of happiness: the science of wellbeing over the life course.

Princeton University Press.

Kahneman, D.

, & Krueger, A.



Developments in the measurement of subjective well-being.

The journal of economic perspectives, 20(1), 3–24.


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