From the This Isn’t Really News department


We shouldn’t be surprised at the news Clyde Haberman brings:

In this season given to tidings of comfort and joy, word has come that we New Yorkers are the sad sacks of the United States. This is something of a surprise. Sure, we complain a lot. Grumbling could qualify as the official state sport. But are we really the unhappiest of them all?

It seems so, judging from a study by two economics professors, newly published in Science magazine. The academics — Andrew J. Oswald, of the University of Warwick in Britain, and Stephen Wu, of Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. — examined piles of data, tossed them into a research Cuisinart and came up with a guide to American happiness, ranked by state. On the smiley scale, New York landed on the bottom.

Dead last?

“I’m sorry about that,” Professor Oswald said by phone from Warwick.

It’s rather dismal. If there were a National Happy League, we’d be the New Jersey Nets. We’re No. 51 out of 51. The District of Columbia was included in the list as if it were a state. It made it all the way to No. 37 despite the handicap of having Congress in its midst.

There are a number of things people might say. Like pointing out that Prof. Oswald is European, or something like that. One might note that Louisiana leads the list, and maybe that’s no joke or secret to the folks down South, but the rest of us are scratching our heads. But, really, we all know that New York is an unhappy place. If the gruff, charmless toil of New York City isn’t well enough overplayed in cinema, the quiet, creepy, still-life intimations of the upstate idyll don’t help. One wonders if the legend was accurate, and thus fair, or if New Yorkers haven’t become more and more miserable over time as the world might expect them to.

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