Lawrence is one of the least-stressed cities in America, according to new study

If you are stressed, you’re probably in the wrong town. A new report has found Lawrence is one of the least stressful communities in America to live.

I found that somewhat surprising because I seemed slightly stressed when Thursday morning’s rainstorm was flooding my basement. But maybe the new study from the financial website Smart Asset was right because my kids didn’t seem stressed at all as they watched me bail water out of a window well. (Prediction: When they realize the cleanup required me to unhook the Wi-Fi, then it will be an emergency.)

Regardless, Smart Asset says Lawrence is the eighth-least-stressed city in America. The study used a variety of statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, a health ranking website and other such data to come up with the claim. In general, Midwest communities — and particularly college towns — fared pretty well.

The graphic at the top of the page shows the top 10 cities, according to Smart Asset.

Like all of these rankings, they are pretty subjective, depending on what statistics the authors choose to give the most weight to. But I often do find some of the underlying statistical data with these rankings to be interesting.

In this one, the authors looked at the average number of hours worked per week. Lawrence has always had a lower number than many other communities because college students bring the average down. (No, figuring out how to write a term paper by reading only the first and last paragraphs of your assigned reading does not count as work.) But this study does highlight that, even for a college community, the amount of hours worked per week in Lawrence is pretty low.

Lawrence checked in with a 34.5-hour work week. Other college communities in the top 25 included Columbia, Mo., at 36 hours; Champaign, Ill., at 36.4 hours; Ann Arbor, Mich., at 36.2 hours; and Missoula, Mont., at 36.3 hours. To be fair, though, Lawrence is not the lowest. It is in the same neighborhood with Iowa City at 34.1 hours; Boulder, Colo., at 34.6 hours, and College Station, Texas, at 34.7 hours. Though it seems no one is better at doing less than Bellingham, Wash., home to Western Washington University. The average work week there is 33.8 hours.

While average number of hours worked per week probably isn’t an absolute bellwether statistic, it may show that communities like Columbia and Ann Arbor are doing a bit better at diversifying their economy away from some of the part-time service jobs that are so frequent in a university town.

The study also had one statistic that you don’t see often: The percentage of population getting the recommended amount of weekly exercise. Lawrence checked in at 57.6 percent, which was a middle-of-the-pack number, at least among the top 25. The news release from Smart Asset didn’t give me the full ranking for every community studied, so I can’t speak to towns outside the top 25. That’s also why I’m not able to compare Lawrence with other Kansas cities.

Out of that group of 25, Santa Fe, N.M., was tops at 65.6 percent, while Missoula was right behind at 65.3 percent. Actually, Lawrence ranked No. 18 out of the 25 cities I had data for.

The study also listed divorce rates. Lawrence’s was 7.8 percent, which was right near the bottom third of the top 25 communities, meaning there were many communities that were higher. Lawrence wasn’t as low as College Station at 4.5 percent or Davis, Calif., at 4.6 percent. But it also wasn’t nearly as high as Santa Fe, where 18.2 percent of the population is divorced, or Missoula at 14.6 percent.

As for the actual rankings, take those with a grain of salt. Lawrence may or may not be among the top 10 least-stressful places to live in America. Don’t let the subjective nature of it all stress you out. I have to admit, though, I was pretty confused by how Columbia, Mo., was No. 6 on the list.

Then I figured it out: When is the last time a University of Missouri fan has ever been stressed over a Final Four game?


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