A new Gallup and Sharecare study reveals how each state compares in their levels of well-being.
Every year, Gallup conducts thousands of telephone interviews with people across the U.S. to rank the happiness and wellness levels of each state's residents based on purpose, social, financial, community, and physical well-being categories. After analyzing 160,498 polls from 2017, Gallup and Sharecare announced the results from their extensive study this week.
Vermont and South Dakota tied for the nation's happiest state, with a national Well-Being Index score of 64.1 out of 100. Whereas South Dakota scored highest in purpose well-being, Vermont scored highest in social.
Hawaii, a six-time winner of the Gallup-Healthways poll, came in a close third at 63.4. Even though Hawaii got knocked down two pegs from 2016, the perennially happy state was the only one to rank “in the top 10 [states] across all elements of well-being” this year.
Minnesota ranked fourth in the Well-Being index, although a recent WalletHub study named the Land of 10,000 Lakes as happiest. However, their study differed from Gallup’s in that they analyzed each state’s levels of happiness and satisfaction based on 28 distinct categories, including depression, sports participation, number of work hours, safety, and divorce rate. Another key point to note is that WalletHub did not conduct personal interviews and instead collected their data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The subjective experience of happiness, it appears, doesn't quite square with more objective measures used to study it.
Unfortunately for West Virginia, both the Gallup and WalletHub studies placed the Appalachian state as the unhappiest in the U.S. Following close behind in the Gallup-Sharecare study are Louisiana and Arkansas, with scores of 49 and 48 respectively.
If you are looking for ideas on where to have a happy vacation this year, we recommend heading to South Dakota's Badlands National Park or Vermont's “Fall's Color Capital” this upcoming fall for outdoorsy activities, beautiful scenery, and a whole lot of happiness.