15 Happiest Cities in America

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Whether money leads to happiness is a source of perennial debate. But a new report from fintech company SmartAsset, citing research from the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that a correlation between happiness and income growth does exist.

Penn researchers found that the correlation persists even when annual income exceeds $80,000, in contrast to earlier findings that happiness tends to stagnate after an individual’s income reaches $75,000.

SmartAsset noted, however, that some cities can offer a higher level of happiness than others. These places have more economic opportunities and a better quality of life.

To identify the places where Americans are happiest, researchers analyzed the 200 largest U.S. cities, of which 164 had available data. They considered 13 metrics across these three categories:

Personal finances

Percent of individuals earning $100,000 or more
Cost of living as a percent of income
Personal bankruptcy filings per 100,000 residents
Home downpayment-to-income ratio


Percent reporting poor mental health days
Life expectancy
Percent who report physical inactivity
Percent of adults with health insurance

Quality of life

Percent of adults living below the poverty level
Marriage rate
Average commute time
Concentration of fining, bars and entertainment establishments
Violent crime rate

Researchers ranked each place in every metric, calculated an average ranking and score for each category, then averaged the three category scores to come with a final one.

See the gallery for the 15 happiest places, according to SmartAsset.

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