America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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21. Iowa
> Residents who like what they do every day: 75.2% (19th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 75.9% (14th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 52.0% (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (18th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 290.6 per 100,000 (16th lowest)

Adults in Iowa are less likely than the typical American adult to benefit every day from relationships with their friends and family. They are also more likely than adult residents of most other states to be active and productive every day and be in near perfect physical health. Though Iowa lags in certain measures of physical health and social connections, the state has relatively strong outcomes in financial and community well-being.

Despite the state’s unremarkable median household income of $56,247 a year, 47.7% of survey respondents in the state have enough money to do everything they want, the fourth largest share among states. That is likely thanks to a low cost of living. Goods and services are about 10% less expensive in the state than they are on average nationwide. The state also boasts far lower than average crime rates, and partly as a result, 83.2% of those surveyed in Iowa always feel safe and secure — well above the 77.4% share of respondents nationwide.

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22. Washington
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.7% (25th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 74.6% (19th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 52.4% (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (14th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 302.2 per 100,000 (19th lowest)

Washington state residents report a relatively strong sense of physical health and financial security. Approximately 58% of adults exercise for at least 30 minutes three days a week, and 61% have eat a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis, each some of the largest shares in the country. Just 33% of adults frequently worry about money on a weekly basis, one of the smaller shares among states.

While Washington residents have healthy behaviors and relatively strong financial security, they report a relatively weak sense of purpose and social well-being. Only 52% of adults believe they have reached most of their goals in the past year, and just 72% have people in their lives who encourage them to be healthy — each some of the smaller shares of any state. Overall, Washington residents report a level of well-being that is about in line with the United States as a whole.

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23. New York
> Residents who like what they do every day: 73.7% (16th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 72.7% (4th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 59.1% (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (16th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 376.2 per 100,000 (24th highest)

New York state ranks better in overall physical well-being than any other measure. Adults in the state are less likely to smoke and more likely to eat healthy on a regular basis than those in most other states. Healthy behaviors can lead to healthy outcomes, and 59.1% of respondents in the state perceive their health to be near perfect, the fourth largest share of any state.

In other measures of well-being, New York state is lagging. Of adults surveyed, just 57% said they do not have someone in their life that made them enthusiastic about the future, one of the smaller shares of any state. Also, a smaller than typical 73.7% share of adults who like what they do every day further undermines the state’s ranking for a strong sense of purpose.

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24. Maine
> Residents who like what they do every day: 73.5% (14th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 77.1% (6th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 49.1% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (21st lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 123.8 per 100,000 (the lowest)

There were 124 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Maine in 2016, the lowest violent crime rate of any state and less than one-third of the national rate. A lack of violent crime can instill residents with a sense of safety and security, and approximately 82% of Maine adults report always feeling safe and secure, the 10th largest share in the country. Additionally, 70% of adults agree that the area where they live is the perfect place for them, and 71% are proud of their community — the seventh and sixth largest shares of any state.

While Maine residents report a strong feeling of community pride, they also report the weakest sense of purpose of nearly any state. Just 63% of adults believe they learn or do something interesting every day, the 10th smallest share of any state.

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25. Alaska
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.3% (25th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 72.8% (5th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 53.7% (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (6th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 804.2 per 100,000 (the highest)

The typical Alaska household earns $76,440 a year, the second most of any state and over $20,000 more than the national median. The high incomes likely instill a sense of financial security in Alaska residents. Just 29.3% of Alaska adults report having recently worried about money, the second smallest share of any state.

While most of Alaska residents report a shared feeling of financial security, many adults in the state lack a strong sense of purpose. Approximately 15% do not believe they get to use their strengths on a daily basis, and 24% believe they have not reached most of their goals in the past year — each some of the largest shares nationwide.