America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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21. Maine
> Well-being index score: 67.3
> Life expectancy: 78.7 years (24th highest)
> Obesity: 27.5% (20th highest)
> Median household income: $46,033 (19th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.9% (8th highest)

Residents of Maine were among the least-optimistic people in the U.S., according to Gallup. Maine is one of just six states in which less than half of the residents were described as thriving, based on their evaluations of their current and future lives. Maine also received poor scores in the emotional health category. State residents were less likely than residents of most other states to feel they were consistently treated with respect the previous day, or to have smiled or laughed that day. However, not all indicators of the state’s overall well-being were negative. Residents were rated by Gallup as having healthier behavior and better work environments than residents of nearly all other states.

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22. Idaho
> Well-being index score: 67.1
> Life expectancy: 79.2 years (20th highest)
> Obesity: 24.4% (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $43,341 (11th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.6% (23rd highest)

Although Idaho did not score in the top 10 in any of the six major categories, the state scored in the top third in three of them: 15th in terms of emotional health, 14th in healthy behaviors and 11th in basic access to necessities. Some responses to the survey were among the 10 best of all states. In terms of emotional health, 87.3% of Idaho residents indicated they experienced a lot of enjoyment the previous day, the fifth highest of all states. Further, 82% of Idaho residents indicated that they don’t smoke, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. As for physical health, just over 24% of people were considered obese, the ninth lowest of all states.

23. Arizona
> Well-being index score: 67.1
> Life expectancy: 79.9 years (9th highest)
> Obesity: 24.1% (7th lowest)
> Median household income: $46,709 (21st lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 85.7% (17th lowest)

In most of the well-being categories, Arizona didn’t rank anywhere near the top, nor did it rank particularly close to the bottom. The only category in which the state performed well was work environment, where it ranked ninth. Nearly 59% of workers indicated that their supervisor treated them more like a partner than a boss, the eighth-highest percentage of all states. Although the state ranked below-average in terms of physical health, the obesity rate — one of the most important health indicators because of its strong link to other ailments — is lower than most states. Slightly more than 24% of residents were considered obese, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. Life expectancy is Arizona is nearly 80 years, among the highest rates in the country.

24. Oregon
> Well-being index score: 67.1
> Life expectancy: 79.0 years (22nd highest)
> Obesity: 25.4% (19th lowest)
> Median household income: $46,816 (22nd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 89.4% (18th lowest)

Oregon’s residents generally practiced healthy behavior. Nearly 82% of residents did not smoke, more than 60% ate five servings of fruits and vegetables four times a week, and over 55% exercised three times a week. Despite these good habits, Oregon was one of the lower rated states in Gallup’s physical health index. Among the individuals surveyed in the state, just 76% were not held back by poor health from participating in normal activities, and just 72.4% of respondents indicated their current health did not keep them from their usual activities. Both were among the worst response rates in the country. Respondents were also among the most likely to have reported back pain, knee pain or otherwise recurring pain to Gallup.

25. New Mexico
> Well-being index score: 66.7
> Life expectancy: 78.2 years (20th lowest)
> Obesity: 24.6% (12th lowest)
> Median household income: $41,963 (8th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.2% (7th lowest)

New Mexico ranked eighth-highest among all states in terms of life evaluation. On a scale of one to 10, residents ranked their life a 7.1. This score was higher than all other states. The state also ranked eighth-highest in terms of healthy behaviors. For instance, 82.1% of New Mexico residents indicated that they do not smoke, the sixth-highest percentage of all states. Furthermore, 56.7% of residents in New Mexico indicated that they exercised for at least 30 minutes in three of the last seven days, the ninth-highest percentage of all states. However, New Mexico scored badly in terms of work environment, ranking seventh from the bottom. Just 54.3% of people indicated their supervisor treated them more like a partner than a boss, less than the 56.5% across the country indicated the same thing.

26. Delaware
> Well-being index score: 66.6
> Life expectancy: 78.3 years (23rd lowest)
> Obesity: 26.3% (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $58,814 (9th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.0% (20th lowest)

In each of the six well-being categories, Delaware generally ranked in the middle of the pack. Delaware’s best scores came in both life evaluation and emotional health, where the state ranked 18th highest. In terms of emotional health, nearly 93% of respondents indicated they had been treated with respect the previous day, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. Delaware’s biggest weakness was in work environment. Just 83% of respondents said they get to use their strengths at work, the fourth-lowest percentage of all states. Yet the state did well in some parts of the category. More than 82% of respondents indicated that their supervisor always created an environment that was open and trusting, the third-highest percentage of all states. It could help that many in Delaware are in higher-paid — and thus likely more autonomous — positions. The median household income in 2011 was $58,814, the ninth-highest of all states and more than $8,000 more than the national median.

27. Texas
> Well-being index score: 66.6
> Life expectancy: 78.3 years (21st lowest)
> Obesity: 28.9% (12th highest)
> Median household income: $49,392 (25th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.1% (3rd lowest)

Texas was one of the nation’s fastest growing states in 2011. That year, the state’s economy grew by 3.3%. Despite a strong economy, basic access to necessities was still more-lacking in Texas than in most other states. Responses from residents surveyed indicated that the state was among the worst for easy access to clean water, and that 13.1% of Texans at some point in the previous year could not afford shelter — worse than all but two states. However, 65.9% of those surveyed in the state believed the place they live was improving, higher than all but two states and eight percentage points better than the U.S. overall.

28. Illinois
> Well-being index score: 66.6
> Life expectancy: 78.8 years (23rd highest)
> Obesity: 26.0% (22nd lowest)
> Median household income: $53,234 (18th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.2% (21st lowest)

Illinois’ highest score was for the physical health of its residents, ranking seventh best of all states. For one, just under 81% of residents indicated they had no health problems within the last 30 days that prevented them from engaging in age-appropriate activities, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. Meanwhile, 76.2% of residents noted they were not held back from daily activities in any given day in the past 30 due to poor health, the ninth-highest percentage of all states. Despite the residents’ relative good health, they didn’t display particularly healthy behaviors, scoring in the bottom third of all states in this category. For instance, only 55.5% of residents ate five servings of fruits and vegetables in four of the previous seven days, among the lowest of all states.

29. Pennsylvania
> Well-being index score: 66.5
> Life expectancy: 78.2 years (19th lowest)
> Obesity: 27.9% (18th highest)
> Median household income: $50,228 (23rd highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.6% (23rd highest)

Pennsylvania’s strong suit in the well-being index was in its residents’ access to basic needs, in which the state ranked in the top 20. The state was in the top 10 for health insurance coverage, citizens with a personal doctor and the availability of medicine. Pennsylvanians have below-average emotional health, and even worse job satisfaction. The state ranked in the bottom third in work environment with a lower-than average percentage of respondents indicated they were treated like an equal by their employers, and that they did what they did best each day on the job.

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30. New York
> Well-being index score: 66.2
> Life expectancy: 80.4 years (4th highest)
> Obesity: 24.9% (15th lowest)
> Median household income: $55,246 (16th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 85.0% (16th lowest)

New York was the largest of eight states in which unemployment did not fall in 2012. Many residents who were employed did not like their jobs either. Just 84.3% of respondents told Gallup they were satisfied with their jobs, the worst figure in the U.S. Also, only 76.4% said their supervisors promoted trust, the second-worst such figure. New York was also ranked among the worst states for the percentage of respondents who stated they had experienced enjoyment — and not sadness and anger — in the previous day.