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Stephen Wu
Stephen Wu

Associate Professor of Economics Stephen Wu's paper "Well-Being Across America" (co-authored with Andrew Oswald, University of Warwick) has been published in the November 2011 issue of the Review of Economics and Statistics (volume 93, number 4, pages 1118-1134). 

This paper uses Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to study life satisfaction and mental health across the states of the USA.  The analysis draws upon 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 well-being and their GDP per capita.  States like Louisiana and DC have high psychological well-being levels; California and West Virginia have low well-being.  When we control for people’s incomes, satisfaction with life is lower in richer states – just as compensating-differentials theory would predict.  Nevertheless, some puzzles remain.

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