USC Study: LA residents are slightly less happy than rest of nation

A morning view of downtown Los Angeles with the 101 freeway in the foreground, January 1, 2017 from the Hollywood Bowl Overlook in Hollywood, California. / AFP / Robyn Beck

LOS ANGELES — Thanks largely to the high cost of living, Los Angeles County residents are generally less satisfied with their lives than people across the nation, according to a USC study released Wednesday.

According to the LABarometer survey conducted by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, Angelenos are also less optimistic about the economy.

“Our first survey results show a resounding theme, which is that the high cost of living in Los Angeles largely dampens residents’ views on a range of measures, from life satisfaction to their economic outlook,” said Kyla Thomas, the director of LABarometer and a USC Dornsife CESR sociologist.

The study found that Los Angeles residents are overall slightly more satisfied than dissatisfied with their lives. Survey respondents reported having an average life satisfaction score of 4.4 on a scale of one to seven, with one being the least satisfied.

The study found that level of satisfaction is close to the state’s average, but Angelenos are slightly more dissatisfied with their lives compared to most Americans. The average national score is 4.6.

According to the report, respondents said personal finances are the most important factors for life satisfaction in Los Angeles County. Angelenos also reported being less satisfied with their personal finances compared to family life, their job, social lives, health, free time and self-esteem, the study found.

Combined, the results suggest that dissatisfaction with personal finances may be a key reason that Angelenos report lower life satisfaction than other Americans, USC stated.

“We find that residents who are less satisfied with their financial situation tend to be less satisfied with their lives overall,” Thomas said.

Los Angeles has some of the highest rent and property values in the country, and as of recently, it has the highest gas prices in the nation, according to GasBuddy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices in Los Angeles rose an average 3.9% compared to last year. Energy prices rose 3.4%, largely the result of an increase in the price of electricity, according to BLS.

LABarometer surveys residents each quarter on issues such as transportation, the economy and housing.

The first survey was conducted from July 19 through Sept. 30 and asked 1,700 Los Angeles County residents a series of questions about life satisfaction, housing circumstances and plans, neighborhood satisfaction, crime and social connectedness.

According to USC, the survey had a 75% response rate.

LABarometer is funded by Union Bank.

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