Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are country folks happier?

Any guy like me who spends time in both rural and urban areas can't help but notice that people in the cities look less happy. Now, it could be nothing more than "city face": the look that lets other people know that you are not to be bothered. Or it could be the need to detach to avoid stimulation overload.

Myself, I've always been a city hater. I lived in NYC for a couple years. Hated it. To my eyes, cities are ugly unless hidden by the night. If areas are run down, my mood follows. The noise, the bad air. We were made to live in small groups. And I'm a bit of a misanthropist--I can only handle a few humans at a time. I realize that cities are essential. Somebody's got to live there, just not me.

Anyway, according to the GSS, small town folks are happier. Just look at the graph. I thought the lives of hicks were supposed to be so dull and meaningless that they'd be one step away from a shotgun in the mouth. The pro-city bias starts when we're kids. Everybody knows that everything cool and fun is in the city. Never trust a teenager.


  1. People could probably be happier in cities if they were allowed to prefer non-violent non-drug-addict people over the alternative. Unfortunately, the leftists launched the concept of Cool to brainwash everyone into preferring violent drug addicts to the alternative. I ask leftists all the time Would you like living in Salt Lake City? They say no. I'd say, would you rather get a flat tire on a random street of Hipton USA or Vibrantville USA ... or SLC? They avoid the question.

    Political correctness also makes you neurotic. It's no good being scared of "those people", you also need to be scared of your mother, your boyfriend, you neighbor. The neurosis is the result of melting your sensible fears of scary people and spreading them around so they hit all of humanity.


  2. Blode wrote: "I ask leftists all the time Would you like living in Salt Lake City? They say no."

    If only they didn't move, in droves, to places like Salt Lake City to preach to the heathen while they enjoy distance from the consequences of their beliefs.

  3. Oh, hey, wait, I don't know anything about that. Leftists are moving to Salt Lake City to preach at people? Far out.

  4. Anonymous12:25 AM

    I was actually going to ask you to do this one since I debate this with my city-loving friend all the time. The results are about what I would have expected.

    Is there any way to check comparative per capita suicide rates, or rates of prescriptions for antidepressants?

  5. Anonymous11:03 AM

    Country people are happier than city people, but have they having more *fun*?

    I totally agree with Ron's opinion here, being and old country citizen who recently moved to a smaller city. Small communities rock, but if you want to have a really good time, it may be too small for its own good.

  6. Blode asks: "Leftists are moving to Salt Lake City to preach at people?"

    Well, the pleasures of their preening moral vanity may be the primary motivation, but keep in mind there is no way they could maintain that preening moral vanity in any area that is bearing the fruit of their religion.

  7. Cities are diverse and diversity creates anomie according to Robert Putnam. Individuals hunker down and don't communicate, even with their own people.

    Most, but not all of the stores in my totally European-American neighborhood have minority clerks and so, when I go out my personal interactions tend to be mostly with minorities.

    I've put Putnam's research to use by trying to patronize stores with European-american clerks when possible. It seems to make me happier and more outgoing. I interact spontaneously with the European-American clerks. Could be a placebo effect, of course.

  8. "A million beating hearts, beneath cold steel piping. Fighting for the top, fighting for the room to breath. Benchpark sleepers lie, with cold blankets and bedless babies. Here I cannot stay, in this big city, this black city, that rises and takes me over. It steals my soul away."

    -- Dave Matthews Band, Spotlight

    Other than physical health, relative economic equality appears to be the greatest determinant of happiness. Cities are conspicuously inegalitarian in a whole host of ways--educationally, economically, sylistically, racially, ethnically, culturally, etc etc. As Putnam has reluctantly shown, diversity and "hunkering down" go together.

  9. I find it interesting that living in the suburbs comes out so well - it does better than living in a small town and equal to a small village. I wouldn't have put money on this result.

    I suspect that a small town might be big enough to be impersonal but too small to offer employment and entertaintment opportunities.

    it may well be that some dissatisfaction arises from small town folk imagining that things would be more interesting in the city.

    alternatively suburbanites may have better jobs (or are better able to find one that floats there boat) and increased incomes and feel more secure and happier because of it.

    the result for people living on farms could be explained by unhappy people leaving to try their luck elsewhere (perhaps in small towns?)


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