There are subtle differences. A higher percentage of Syracusans live as families, and more Madisonites live alone (solitary happiness?). Syracuse is a significantly more diverse place than Madison, which has a minority population of only 16 percent, compared with around 45 percent in Syracuse according to our most recent census.
But that doesn't explain why they're happier.
According to this study, it comes down to a few important things, which can be summed up in one word: money.
The median household income in Syracuse is $30,075. In Madison, it is $49,595.
Money can't buy you happiness, but the lack of it can create a whole lot of pain. When a community's economy is hurting, it shows on the faces of its residents. High unemployment, low wages and over-taxation don't warm your heart.
I love the seasons and the snow and the camaraderie this community offers. Our long winters make our glorious late springs and summers all that much more enjoyable. We have friendly neighborhoods, many great schools, beautiful lakes and parks, and a diverse culture. I've never wanted to live anywhere else.
Nonetheless, there are economic barriers in Upstate New York that don't exist in other parts of the nation. Until those barriers are removed and our state and local leaders adopt forward-thinking economic policies, more and more people will take their pursuit of happiness elsewhere. And that won't make anyone smile.
David Tyler is the publisher of Eagle Newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.