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]


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.

Eric M. Jones


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.


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.

Ankit Patel

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.


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.

Robyn Goldstein

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.

Julie R.

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).

Malik Johnson

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.

Mrs. 305

I'm not sure this study is completely accurate. While it's true that New Jersey is one of the richest states in the country, that also comes with a more stressful lifestyle for all residents. In the northeast most people live very fast paced, intense, work concentrated life. This stress combined with the high property tax lead me to believe that we cannot possibly be some of the happiest people in the country, what with all the financial and career based pressure.


Please SOMEBODY talk about Ankit Patel's observations and data!

I first noticed this clearly when I was explaining a presidential election to my foreign husband.

This seems like one of those proverbial thousand pound gorillas that everyone is pretending to ignore.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this phenomenon :

As we see in the HDI report, 1 in 2 Asian Americans have a bachelors degree, the largest rate of bachelor education completion by race in United States. However, there seems to be a trend by the top universities (MIT, HBS, Wharton etc.) to limit the racial representation of Asian American students in their classroom for a Masters and Bachelors degrees. How do you think this will impact the overall education index of the Asian Americans in US? Is there any historic data that might predict that this will lead to Asian Americans completing higher education in other countries like China/EU? Could this have any positive or negative impact on American economy's competitiveness?
Your Avid Fan :)