Home/Rod Dreher/Clinging To Guns, Religion, Conservatism — And Happiness

Clinging To Guns, Religion, Conservatism — And Happiness


Louisiana is the happiest state, and the South is the happiest region. Poor and backwards as we are, and clinging to our guns and religion as we do. From the Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch blog:

Cheer up, Big Apple residents — New York City is the most unhappy city in America.

That’s according to data coming from a working paper by Harvard professor Edward Glaeser, Vancouver School of Economics professor Joshua Gottlieb and Harvard doctoral student Oren Ziv. They used data collected in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and then adjusted it for age, sex, race, income and other factors. (Such adjustments are important — women, for instance, are happier than men; the married are happier than single or divorced respondents; and so on.)

The top five happiest cities in the country are all in Louisiana. I’m just sayin’.

According to this model, with the possible exception of Chicago (whence our president) and the Rust Belt, the most miserable region in the US is the corridor between Boston and DC and its suburbs — where the major American media are headquartered, and the cultural elite. Southern California, home of the American dream factory, is also pretty miserable.

But Harvard’s Edward Glaeser says happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be. Excerpt:

Consider Boston vs. Galveston. Never mind Boston’s tough winters — the city is a competitive, intense environment to live in year-round. Being around smart people, of which Boston has many, means being very aware of your own limitations. (There’s a reason people are less happy when they have rich neighbors.) But if living in a maelstrom of talent doesn’t naturally lead to self-satisfaction — and constantly being reminded of our shortcomings — it does lead to achievement. Aspiring biomedical researchers may sacrifice happiness and life-satisfaction, but they get colleagues who can help them produce ideas that can change the world.

He has a point, certainly. People in Louisiana are poorer than people in most states. But they are more grateful for what they have, it would seem, are more religiously oriented, and know how to enjoy life more. Could this same dynamic be at work across the South?

It’s true you aren’t going to turn Louisiana into the Boston-NYC-DC corridor, no how, no way. I think I can live with that.

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about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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