Madison ranked 12th happiest city in US

According to new research from SmartAsset, money does, in some cases, lead to happiness. However, not all places can offer the same level of happiness, as some cities offer more economic opportunities and a better quality of life than others.

In an analysis of the 200 largest cities in the United States, SmartAsset looked at 13 different metrics across three categories — personal finance, well-being, and quality of life — and determined that Madison is the 12th happiest city in America.

Sunnyvale, California took the top overall ranking. In fact, California cities dominate the top 10. While cities like Sunnyvale and Fremont offer the No. 1 and No. 3 highest earnings for individuals, these Western cities score highest in the quality-of-life category. Specifically, top 10 California cities had lower percentages of people living in poverty, higher marriage rates, and lower violent crime rates.

Meanwhile, Birmingham, Alabama is the least happy city. It ranks in the bottom five across metrics such as personal bankruptcy filings per capita, life expectancy, and the percentage of residents living in poverty. Newark, New Jersey and Memphis, Tennessee follow as the second- and third-least happy cities.

Among other findings: The top 10 cities have high marriage rates. Residents who’ve said “I do” make up the majority of the population in all but one city: Arlington, Virginia, where the marriage rate is 44.0%. Frisco, Texas, which ranks No. 5 overall, has the highest marriage rate study-wide (62.6%).