Does being named one of the unhappiest cities lead to more unhappiness in that place?

WalletHub has a new ranking of the happiest cities in the United States. Here are the top ranked and lowest ranked cities:

Fremont, Calif., took the top spot with Plano, Texas; San Jose, Calif.; Irvine, Calif., and Madison, Wis., rounding out the top five…

The unhappiest city on the list? That’d be Detroit, Mich., the report said, followed by Charleston, W. Va.; Toledo, Ohio; Huntington, W. Va., and Cleveland, Ohio.

While it is easy to get bogged down in how the rankings were made – and WalletHub describes their methodology – I have a different question this time. Not all rankings of places include the worst places or less desirable places. What is the purpose or outcome of showing all the locations?

One reason could be simply wanting to share all the data. If you calculate all the rankings, why not publish all the results? To see how the rankings worked out, people might expect to see everything. Contrast this with the approach of Money where they show the top 100 places to live. On this list, many places are left out while only the best are highlighted.

In terms of outcomes, what does this list do the cities at the bottom of the list? Three of the cities are in the Rust Belt and two others are in West Virginia which faces similar issues. I am not sure these rankings would be a surprise to the leaders of these cities but it still could be demoralizing.

Realistically, are there ways that cities toward the bottom of the list could enact changes that would significantly change the rankings over a short period? A rankings list could motivate places, leaders, and residents. Yet, it is difficult to make it up rankings list and turn around reputations that are well established.

I wonder if such lists simply serve to add to the shame or negative reputations of the places at the bottom. The data may be more complete but how does this help Detroit or the others at the bottom?

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