Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburghers, Why Are You So Unhappy?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburghers, Why Are You So Unhappy?

Article excerpt

Newspapers love bad news, everyone knows, and The Morning File likes to think of itself as a leader of the pack in that regard. We proudly view ourselves as a Random Acts of Badness alternative to what appears Thursdays on this page.

That is why the awful report that came out this month from one of our favorite think tanks, the National Bureau of Economic Research, so delighted us.

We're not talking about its recent Asian agriculture treatise, "The Impact of Rainfall on Rice Output in Indonesia," which covers that topic better than anything we've seen before.

What's making us so happy, in an ironic sort of way, is the bureau's report titled simply "Unhappy Cities." Finally, some authoritative research that can put to rest all of the lists and rankings that say Pittsburgh is the best this, the best that, the best whatever. This is one ranking you won't find the politicians, tourism agencies and chambers of commerce touting.

Plugging in some nifty calculations we can't pretend to understand, the report determined that of American metropolitan areas of more than 1 million people, New York is the unhappiest city. That makes sense to us, because if we had to pay the kind of money they do there to see a Broadway show, we'd be depressed for months afterward.

But No. 2? Less happy than Detroit and Buffalo and other great Rust Belt non-meccas, in addition to dozens of other urban centers? That's us! Feel free to shout it from the top of Mount Washington, if you're not worried about Mayor Bill Peduto shoving you over the overlook when you're not looking.

As always with such findings, there's a caveat. One key aspect of the ranking was how residents of cities reported their level of self-satisfaction in a national study titled the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between 2005 and 2010. So it's not really a ranking based on how happy Pittsburghers are now but back when, um, let's see:

* The city had a mayor many of his constituents deemed an embarrassment.

* The baseball team had not had a winning season in anyone's recent memory.

* A half-century of population losses had yet to abate. …

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