Could it be time to move to Alaska? In a new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the northernmost state nabbed the number one spot for well-being for the first time. Hawaii—a state that has appeared within the top 10 for seven consecutive years—and South Dakota ranked second and third, respectively.
This year, many of the unhappiest states have remained stagnant: West Virginia and Kentucky ranked 50th and 49th, respectively, for the sixth consecutive year. Arkansas, Ohio, and Mississippi have also ranked in the bottom 10 every year since 2008, when the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was first measured.
The rankings are based on more than 176,000 interviews, conducted from January to December 2014, with U.S. adults across all 50 states. The index measures five categories—purpose (job satisfaction and motivation), social support, financial stability, community (feeling prideful and safe in your neighborhood), and physical health—to rank each states on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being a perfect score.
In a release from Healthways and Gallup, the two organizations say well-being directly correlates with lower healthcare costs and increased productivity. And both government officials and companies can use the findings to improve quality of life: “Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to well-being improvement, measuring well-being is a critical first step in developing strategies to achieve results and to create a culture of well-being,” says Janet Calhoun, senior vice president of strategy, innovations and solutions at Healthways.
Top 10 States With Highest Well-Being
3. South Dakota
9. New Mexico
Top 10 States With Lowest Well-Being
1. West Virginia
Download the full list here.