Special Report

America's Happiest (and Most Miserable) States


24/7 Wall St. reviewed all 50 U.S. states based on their scores in the Gallup-Healthways 2016 Well-Being Index. Gallup-Healthways calculated a national well-being score as well as one for each state based on 177,192 telephone interviews with U.S. adults across all 50 states, conducted from January 2 to December 30, 2016. Gallup conducts 500 telephone interviews a day, for a resulting sample that projects to an estimated 95% of all U.S. adults.

Gallup combined five separate essential elements of well-being — purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. In addition to the index, 24/7 Wall St. considered data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, including median household income, poverty rates, uninsured rates, and adult educational attainment rates. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we reviewed 2016 annual state unemployment rates and 2015 average hours worked among private nonfarm workers. We also reviewed 2015 obesity and teen pregnancy rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incidence of heart disease in 2015 is from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The share of the population with low incomes and low access to healthy food comes from the Department of Agriculture’s Food Environment Atlas. Low access is defined as living more than one mile from a supermarket in an urban area or more than 10 miles from a supermarket in a rural area, and low income is defined as being at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. We also considered state violent crime rates in 2015 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program. Lastly, we used 2014 regional price parity from the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a proxy for cost of living. All other data come from the United Health Foundation’s 2016 report “America’s Health Rankings.”

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