There are persistent differences in self-reported subjective well-being across the United States, and, in particular, the residents of declining cities report less happiness than other Americans. Although this unhappiness is at least as strong among new residents of such places as long-term m residents, some people continue to move to these areas. These areas also seem to have been s happy historically during the era in which these now-declining declining cities prospered. These patterns are compatible with the view that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, and that subjective well being is better viewed as only one part of the utility function. In the past the residents of now declining places were compensated financially for their unhappiness, but it is less clear what draws migrants to these unhappy places today.
To download the PDF version of the working paper click here.