If You Live in These Areas, You Might Be Happier

Posted On: 05-25-2018
If You Live in These Areas, You Might Be Happier
A new study looks at the attributes that might contribute to how cities are ranked for their well-being in the United States. The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers were a Yale-led team that pinpointed 12 different community factors that are independently related to well-being. In addition to the expected factors, like higher income levels and higher education levels, the researchers also found that factors like access to preventative medical care and higher percentage of bicycle commuters also played a role.

The researchers compared data on well-being from the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which surveys more than 300,000 Americans, and community attributes that were pulled from sources such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings. The attributes included information on poverty percentages, preventable hospital stays, high school graduation rates, and more.

The standout community attributes were slimmed down from 75, because the researchers wanted to isolate characteristics that affected well-being, independent of closely related factors. Just 12 of the factors were found to explain over 90% of the variation in well-being that is experienced across the country.

Among the factors that surprised the researchers was the percentage of residents commuting by bicycle. Overall, individuals living in places where bicycle commuting is an option reported feeling fulfilled and satisfied. This may be because areas with bicycle-friendly infrastructure are likely to have other living improvements, or because commuting by bike can improve overall health.

Studying well-being and its contributing factors is important, because well-being has been associated with better health and longer life expectancy. Although more testing is needed to find definitive links between these factors and life expectancy, this is a first step in understanding what contributes to overall health.

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