SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A new study says Silicon Valley has the highest level of well-being in America, while depressed parts of the San Joaquin Valley have the lowest. The “Portrait of California,” constructed by the American Human Development Project, measures well-being and access to opportunity, based on level of education, income and life expectancy.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

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“The top neighborhood group was in Santa Clara County, specifically Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto areas,” said report co-author Kristen Lewis.

It combines those three cities with Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Gatos to create what Lewis calls “Silicon Valley Shangri-La.”

If it were its own state, the Bay Area would be number one in the nation as far as well-being. At the other end of the spectrum, inner city Los Angeles, and the rural Central Valley rank the lowest.

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Lewis found that foreign-born Californians live four years longer than natives, partially because people in other countries have better health habits than Americans do.

“They smoke at a lower rate, they do binge drinking less, and they overall have a healthier diet,” said Lewis.

Overall, California’s life expectancy is 80 years, which is 18 months longer than the national average.

“In reality, California is a fabulous state,” said Lewis. “It has tons going for it. It has some of the highest levels of well-being in the whole world, and there’s a lot to be learned about what works from what’s going on in California right now.”

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