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Smile, study shows Tennessee is the 4th happiest state in U.S.

December 18th, 2009 12:00 am by Staff Report

Live Science is reporting new research on state-level happiness shows Florida and two other sunshine states made it to the Top 5, while Minnesota doesn't show up until number 26 on the list. Tennessee ranked Number 4.

In addition to rating the smile factor of U.S. states, the research also proved for the first time that a person's self-reported happiness matches up with objective measures of well-being. Essentially, if an individual says they're happy, they are.

The happy-states list, however, doesn't match up with a similar ranking reported last month, which found that the most tolerant and wealthiest states were, on average, the happiest.

"That study cannot control for individual characteristics," Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England told LiveScience. "In other words, all anyone has been able to do is to report the averages state-by-state, and the problem with doing that is you're not comparing apples with apples because the people who live in New York City are nothing like the individuals living in Montana."

Rather, Oswald and Stephen Wu, an economist at Hamilton College in New York, statistically created a representative American. That way they could take, for example, a 38-year-old woman with a high-school diploma and making medium-wage who is living anywhere and transplant her to another state and get a rough estimate of her happiness level.

"Not much point in looking at the happiness of a Texas rancher compared to a nurse in Ohio," Oswald said.

Read the full report at the LiveScience Web site.

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