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Analysis: Loudoun is the happiest county in America

Loudoun has been tagged the “happiest county” in the nation by SmartAsset, a personal finance tech company based in New York.

SmartAsset conducted the analysis using financial health, personal health and family stability factors.

Loudoun's 3.6 percent poverty rate, life expectancy of 82.6 years and 62.3 percent marriage rate helped the county of 350,000-plus residents secure the No. 1 spot. The poverty figure was the best of any major U.S. county, according to SmartAsset.

Two other Virginia counties -- Fairfax and York -- made the list's top five.

Here's more about SmartAsset's methodology:

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Data & Methodology

To quantify the quality of life in U.S. counties, SmartAsset collected data on every U.S. county with a population of at least 50,000 – 978 counties in total. For each of those counties, we looked at eight different metrics reflecting four factors key to a high regional quality of life:

Family stability. Interpersonal relationships are perhaps the single most important driver of happiness and family relationships are most important of all. SmartAsset considered each county’s marriage and divorce rates to gauge family stability.

Physical health. Healthy people are happy people. SmartAsset looked at two metrics to gauge a county’s physical health: average life expectancy and the percentage of the population receiving the recommended weekly exercise (150 minutes of moderate physical activity, 75 minutes of rigorous activity or some combination thereof).

Personal financial health. At an individual level, are people struggling to make ends meet? In a happy county, most families should be able to lead a comfortable lifestyle while working toward their long term financial goals (like retirement and homeownership). To measure financial health, SmartAsset calculated the personal bankruptcy rate in each county, as well as the ratio between median income and the minimum income needed to afford basic necessities.

Economic security. A strong economy generates the types of opportunities and overall prosperity that supports a high quality of life. SmartAsset’s analysis incorporated the county average unemployment rate and poverty rate over the years 2009 to 2013.1


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-Trevor Baratko

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