Well-Being Across America

Andrew J. Oswald, Stephen Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to study life satisfaction and mental health across the geography of the United States. The analysis draws on a sample of 1.3 million citizens. Initially we control for people's personal characteristics (though not income). There is no correlation between states' regression-adjusted wellbeing and their GDP per capita. States like Louisiana, plus Washington, D.C., have high psychological well-being levels; California and West Virginia have low well-being. When we control for incomes, satisfaction with life is lower in richer states, just as compensating-differentials theory would predict. Nevertheless, some puzzles remain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1118-1134
Number of pages17
JournalReview of Economics and Statistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

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