Live in Hawaii, Colorado, or Minnesota? Chances are, you’re happier than your brethren in Mississippi, Kentucky, and West Virginia. That’s according to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The yearly report surveys 1,000 people each day for 350 days out of the year, asking them questions about work environment, physical health, emotional health, lifestyle behaviors like exercise and smoking, access to things like health care and food, and overall life satisfaction.
For the past four years, Hawaii has taken the top spot (it came in second in 2008). Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Minnesota have also remained in the top 10 for the last four years. Vermont, Iowa, and Nebraska, on the other hand, have jumped from being moderately happy states (Vermont was ranked at 27 in 2008) to the top 10. The last state on the top 10, Massachusetts, ranks first for basic access—unsurprising considering the state’s comprehensive health care laws. Here is the full top 10 list of the happiest states, ranked by their well-being scores.
- New Hampshire
And there are five states—West Virginia
Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas—that have ranked at the bottom since 2008. This probably has a lot to do with poverty levels in those states—but more importantly, these states rank poorly on all of the factors surveyed. West Virginia is actually ranked 38th for "work environment," but 50th on everything else. Behold, the 10 least happy states in the country, ranked from happiest to least happy.
- West Virginia
In 2011, Gallup used its statistical data to create a composite of the happiest person in the country based on finds about the traits that correspond with happiness. The New York Times reported on what that person would look like: "He’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year." Is happiness tied directly to wealth? Maybe not, but it certainly helps.