This post at the New York Times economics blog has garnered much attention. According to a Gallup survey of well-being, Utah reports the happiest citizens, while West Virginia is the unhappiest among the 50 states.
While looking at these results, I couldn't help but think of the reports I recently wrote on the best and worst states to start a business. I noticed a general correlation between happiness and business climate.
Looking at the map that the Times blog provides, it seems that all the best states I identified for starting a business are blue (meaning in the top half of happy states. The correlation for worst states was not as strong. Only three out of seven were in the red. But West Virginia, the unhappiest state, is also the worst state for businesses on my list. Utah, the happiest state, came in 6th best.
Is there any kind of causation here? Probably not. But it shouldn't be surprising that all the factors that produce successful businesses in a state--good education systems, technology, good governance--also generally create happy citizens. But other random factors prevent it from being a perfect correlation. For example, Hawaii has a relatively bad business climate, but the people there are very happy compared to the rest of the country, because, well, they're in Hawaii.