Ozaukee County among the happiest places to live in America
It is said fences make good neighbors, but what makes those neighbors so darn happy?
The website SmartAssets.com thinks it has the answer. According to its formula, residents of Ozaukee County have plenty of reason to smile.
A report titled “Happiest Counties in America” creates an index that evaluates the relative contentedness of residents in the nation’s 978 counties with populations over 50,000 people.
Just as it did last year, Ozaukee County finished eighth this year with a Happiness Index rating of 94.8.
The index evaluates each county according to eight matrixes that measure lifestyle factors.
While money can’t buy happiness, most of those factors reflect Ozaukee County’s relative affluence.
By the latest numbers, we enjoy a low unemployment rate of 5.8% (as measured between the years 2009 and 2013) and a poverty rate of 5.2%. Similarly, the local bankruptcy rate was listed at .23%.
Subscribing to the theory that people in stable family settings tend to be happier, the county also earned points for having a marriage rate of 60.2%.
Along with higher incomes comes the ability to afford better health care, with the county again scoring well with an average life expectancy of 81.7 years.
The final grading factor is perhaps a bit more subjective.
The county received a 63.6 rating in the category deemed the Physical Activity Rate, which is a measurement of how many residents get recommended amounts of weekly exercise. The national average, according to the study, is a rating of 54.6.
“Thanks likely in part to the abundance of nearby outdoor opportunities, the residents of Ozaukee County rated especially well for their healthy lifestyles,” the tabulators said in explaining the rating.
The website paints an appealing picture of life here.
“Located on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, Ozaukee County ranked in the top 100 for seven of the eight metrics we considered — the only county to do so,” they wrote in their analysis.
The only other Wisconsin county to make the Top 25 ranking was Waukesha, with an index score of 93.2, good for 15th in the ranking.
Topping the ranking was the affluent Loudoun County, Va., an area that has seen its population explode from less than 90,000 in 1990 to more than 310,000 today.
The index analysts say one reason for the staggering growth is the enviable lifestyle that county’s residents enjoy.
The tourism slogan says “Virginia is for lovers,” but the index shows many of the state’s residents are simply quite happy, as well, with three of that state’s counties in the top five listed.
Counties around the nation edging out Ozaukee County in the index were: tied for 2nd, Delaware, Ohio, and Fairfax, Va., 97.4; 4th, Carver, Minn., 97.1; 5th, York, Va., 97; 6th, Chester, Pa., 95.5; and Howard, Md., located west of Baltimore, 95.3.
Nine Midwest counties made the Top 25 list, nearly as many as the 10 counties making the top of the ranking from the Mid-Atlantic states.
On the other end of the scale, 18 of the 25 counties at the bottom of the nationwide ranking were from the South — generally reflecting poverty rates of more than 20%, unemployment levels in the teens and life expectancies around 75.
The full study is available at smartasset.com/mortgage/happiest-places-in-america.
Overall, the index analysts note the United States continues to score well in the international “Better Life Index” compiled by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
The latest version of that index ranked the USA 13th out of 156 countries. Australia topped that ranking.