2020 was one of the most challenging years in recent history. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of people, happiness was not an easy measure to quantify. It’s also highly individual. What makes a person happy is influenced by different factors that may frequently change, depending on social, financial, and health status.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has tested us in many ways. Many have had to face financial, domestic, health, and other challenges as a result. What people may not realize is that where they live may have an effect on how happy they are.
To identify the most miserable cities in America, according to residents, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the happiness score of all 383 metro areas in the U.S. from digital health company Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index. The index measures whether individuals feel a sense of purpose, have supportive relationships, are financially secure, satisfied with their community, and are in good physical health. Sharecare surveyed more than 450,000 U.S. adults on five domains of individual well-being and analyzed more than 600 elements of social determinants of health from additional data sources.
The South appears to be the region with the most cities where residents feel unhappy. Though Sharecare’s data shows resilience and improvement in well-being in many places, happiness gaps have persisted in rural areas, and, in many cases, such gaps have even increased.
Counties in non-metro areas scored lower on the Index’s 100-point scale than counties in metro areas in happiness. Metro counties scored higher for all domains except community resources such as libraries and churches.
Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic made many people feel less happy than previous years, but it has caused the average person’s stress level to increase significantly. Read about how stress and other things can lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage.