According to a new working study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, New York City ranks as the least happy city in the US. The study sourced years worth of data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based off a questionnaire that simply asked, “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?”

The self-reported data was then adjusted for the respondent’s income, housing costs, age and other factors which affect happiness of the general population. The study found that metropolitan areas are generally filled with relative unhappiness and New York City is the biggest bummer of them all. Researchers theorize that we’ve been trading in our happiness to pay rent and earn more money (so we can, presumably, pay more rent.)

One interpretation of these facts is that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, as measured in surveys, and they willingly endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs. In this view, subjective well-being is better viewed as one of many arguments of the utility function, rather than the utility function itself, and individuals make trade-offs among competing objectives, including but not limited to happiness.

Though historical data is limited, the study notes that “declining cities” were relatively as sad “in their prosperous past.” Additionally, new transplants are as unhappy as long-time New Yorkers, “and yet some people continue to move” here.

The happiest city in the US according to the study? Lafayette, Louisiana. Oh, boy. (Photo: Jim Trodel)