Not happy that Fort Worth is the ‘least funny’ city and Texas’ ‘least happy’

07/29/2014 7:43 PM

07/29/2014 7:43 PM

First, Fort Worth was named America’s Least Funny City.

If that wasn’t bad enough, now we’re also Texas’ Least Happy City.

No joke. We’re gripy, or at least blasé, if you read studies of far-flung data from faraway universities.

Our civic mood comes up short in a study of personal satisfaction levels published by researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia.

OK, so we’re a little unhappy right now. But that’s because of the Rangers.

And the Cowboys.

Supposedly, researchers adjusted the data for demographics and income.

Why didn’t they adjust it for having Jerry Jones?

This rankling new ranking comes from “Unhappy Cities,” a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

The authors found Richmond and Norfolk, Va., to be America’s most gloriously happy major metro areas, based in part on survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By phone, the CDC asks, “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?”

New York and Pittsburgh ranked last.

(I wonder if Fort Worth and Arlington lost points by answering, “None of the CDC’s business.”)

For whatever reason, we wound up squarely in the middle nationally, far behind other Texas metros.

Houston is the nation’s No. 6 most satisfied big city, probably because the motorists stuck in traffic weren’t home to answer the phone.

Residents of San Antonio, Dallas-Plano and Austin-San Marcos are all twice as satisfied as those in Fort Worth-Arlington.

(But if it’s any consolation, we are only half as cranky as Oklahoma City.)

I can’t explain why Dallas would be twice as satisfied.

All I can figure out is, maybe it’s because Dallas has a city with cowboys, character and great museums right next door.

Co-author Joshua Gottlieb of the University of British Columbia was no help.

A spokesman said he’s tired of doing interviews about unhappy cities.

In emailed general comments, he said metro areas with higher education levels tend to report higher satisfaction.

(In a separate ranking of smaller cities, the college town of Charlottesville, Va., was the most satisfied — Corpus Christi led in Texas — with Scranton, Pa., the least.)

Gottlieb also acknowledged that some cities’ residents just may not give happy answers to surveys.

I would worry about all this if I hadn’t seen this headline on a different poll last September:

Dallas-Fort Worth is ‘Happiest’ Among America’s Top 10.”

We’re very satisfied with our health, faith and political involvement, the Harris Poll found in a more specific survey.

In fact, we’re happier than the rest of the U.S. in every category except one: “Pastimes.”

We’d be a lot happier with a winner.

About Bud Kennedy

Bud Kennedy

@budkennedy

Bud Kennedy is a homegrown Fort Worth guy who started out covering high school football here when he was 16. He went away to the Fort Worth Press and newspapers in Austin and Dallas, then came home in 1981.

Since 1987, he's written more than 1,000 weekly dining columns and more than 3,000 news and politics columns. If you don't like what he says about politics, read him on barbecue.

Email Bud at

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