Mosaic of state seal
A mosaic of the seal of the State of California in the ferry building in San Francisco. Public domain photo

From jammed expressways to high costs and sudden earthquakes, Californians have a lot to be stressed about. But residents of the Golden State still rank as the 4th happiest in the Untied States.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by WalletHub, a Washington, DC-based personal financial services firm that provides weekly national rankings on a wide range of topics.

For its latest ranking, WalletHub drew upon the findings of “happiness” research to determine which environmental factors are linked to a person’s overall well-being and satisfaction with life.

States were compared across three key dimensions — emotional and physical well-being; work environment; and community and environment — using 31 statistical factors from the incidence of suicide to work hours and crime rates.

Sunny, tropical Hawaii ranked first, with Utah second and cold Minnesota a surprising third. Then came California. Dead last on the list was West Virginia.

California ranked 4th in emotional and physical well-being, 12th in work environment and 16th in community and environment.

The Golden State is frequently criticized for high costs and high taxes, but experts interviewed by WalletHub said the old saw that money can’t buy happiness is true.

“Once people’s basic needs are met, then more money does not translate into greater happiness,” said Daniel A. Sachau, a professor of psychology at Minnesota State University. “Lottery winners are very happy after they win the lottery, but one year later, are about as happy as the typical citizen.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.