TEXAS, USA — Does money really buy happiness?
A report put together by SmartAsset cited a 2021 University of Pennsylvania study found a correlation between happiness and income growth. But money isn't everything.
In order to look at the "happiest cities in America," SmartAsset analyzed 164 cities for 13 different metrics across three categories: personal finance, well-being and quality of life. Each city was given a score in each of these three areas and ranked one through 50.
Two North Texas cities cracked the top 10: Frisco and Plano. Austin was the only other city to make the top 50 list (No. 20).
The happiest city in America, according to this study, is Sunnyvale, Calif.
Frisco was ranked No. 5 overall, and Plano came in one spot behind at No. 6.
However, Frisco topped all other cities in two of the 13 metrics analyzed: marriage rate (62.6%) and percentage of residents living below the poverty-level (2.5%). Frisco came in at No.2 for its typical living costs compared to the median household income (29.55%) and its violent crime rate (roughly 86 crimes per 100,000 residents).
Plano had the fourth-highest marriage rate (56.9%) and the 10th-lowest violent crime rate (roughly 155 for every 100,000 residents). The study also concluded that just more than one-third of Plano residents earn $100,000 or more and typical cost of living expenses make up 40.43% of the median household income in the city.
Here is a look at the rankings:
Here is a breakdown of the three categories and the metrics used to calculate their respective scores:
- Percent of individuals earning $100,000 or more. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Cost of living as a percent of income. This is the cost of living (for an individual with no children) divided by the median household income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey. Cost of living data is from MIT’s living wage calculator.
- Personal bankruptcy filings per 100,000 residents. Data is from uscourts.gov and is at a county-level.
- Down payment-to-income ratio. This is the ratio between a 20% down payment on the median-valued home and the median household income. Data is from the 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Percent reporting poor mental health days. Data is from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
- Life expectancy (years). Data is from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
- Percent who report physical inactivity. Data is from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
- Percent of adults with health insurance. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
Quality of Life
- Percent of adults living below poverty-level. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Marriage rate. Research by the GSS over five decades has shown that people who have been married (whether or not they currently still are) are happier than those who’ve never been married. For this reason, this metric was included in our analysis. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.
- Average commute time. This is the average number of minutes it takes for a worker to commute to work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Concentration of dining, bars and entertainment establishments. This is the number of dining, bars and entertainment as a percentage of all establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Violent crime rate. This is the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
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