Happy in Jersey

Which Americans are the “happiest” (as defined by wellbeing measures)?? Asian-Americans living in New Jersey, according to the American Human Development Project.? A newly released report finds that “New Jersey Asian Americans live, on average, an astonishing 26 years longer, are 11 times more likely to have a graduate degree, and earn $35,610 more per year than South Dakota Native Americans.”? African-Americans, in contrast, have a life expectancy equivalent to the average American’s life expectancy three decades ago.? Nationwide, Native Americans score the lowest on the American Human Development Index. (HT: Marginal Revolution)[%comments]


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  1. Brett says:

    Two thoughts here.

    First, comparing the income of any group in NJ to any group in SD is silly. The cost of living in NJ is extraordinary (I live here, I know). In fact bestplaces.net cost of living calculator states that “A salary of $100,000 in Morristown, New Jersey could decrease to $56,930 in Box Elder, South Dakota”, so a statement that “Asian Americans… earn $35,610 more per year than South Dakota Native Americans”, without clarifying the other variables taken into account makes me think that Asian-Americans in NJ are getting screwed, not that they’re doing well.

    Second, is anyone surprised that Native Americans have it bad? The government has their hands completely into the lives of Native Americans, it’s a group that is almost completely dependent on the US Government. As long as that is the case, their position at the bottom of this ranking is guaranteed.

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  2. Eric M. Jones says:


    Q: So why did the Native Americans get here first?
    A: Because they had all the reservations.

    I think “the happiest” is a bogus category. A really good TED presentation addressed distilling information from the endless strings of internet email, looking for the words “happy” etc. They found that Hawaii seemed happiest, with Maine second, then Vermont, and New Hampshire.

    At least, a decently-long life and good health may be a necessary but not sufficient condition.

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  3. Tzipporah says:

    Brett is right on the money. Pu intended…

    Any study attempting to gauge “happiness” that doesn’t take into account the local cost of living is ridiculous.

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  4. Ankit Patel says:

    I noticed something that surprised me. The Top 20 of 25 states by the Human Development Index in that report are Blue states, as defined by average margin of Democrat victory in the last 5 presidential elections.

    The correlation between blueness and the HD Index is 0.58 and the percentage variation explained is 34%.

    Any ideas why this might be true? I have the spreadsheet with the data entered if anyone wants to see.

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  5. Chun says:

    My family is Asian. We live in Jersey. I don’t think we are the happiest. My mom is constantly complaining about property tax here.

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  6. Robyn Goldstein says:

    Dear Chun;

    So here’s a question that I am curious about. Do you still have ties to your native country and does everyone live more or less in the same area there as here. Asians, in particular, seem to live in clusters here in the states as they did there. In China, I know that wherever you moved, your main ties (including economic) were to your clan and it remained that way. I have a friend from the Philipines who not only provides support to her family, but to friends in her area. Surely, that would make for increased happiness and making complaining easier when it’s between friends.

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  7. Julie R. says:

    does the data have anything to do with human IQ.
    Here are scientifically studied average IQ’s of the races:
    East Asians (105), Europeans (99), Inuit (91), Southeast Asians and Amerindians (87 each), Pacific Islanders (85), South Asians/North Africans (including Middle Easterners) (84), Non-Bushmen Sub-Saharan Africans (67), Australian Aborigines (62), Bushmen and Pygmies (54).

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  8. Malik Johnson says:

    Jersey is the place to be. I dont understand why they only talk about african americans and asians, white and black people live here too. Not only are we that diverse, we have a lot of activities to do in jersey. We have the shore, we have big cities like newark and camden. What makes NJ one of the best states?? Well we have a lot of jobs and most families are wealthy because of this opprotunity of having a well paying job. No matter what race you are, if you work hard, you will be successful in the state of NEW JERSEY.

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