America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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36. Illinois
> Residents who like what they do every day: 75.5% (15th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 75.9% (15th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 55.6% (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (24th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 436.3 per 100,000 (16th highest)

The typical household in Illinois earns $60,960 a year, over $3,000 more than the national median of $57,617. Income is one the primary determinants of financial security, and 45% of adults in the state believe they have enough money to do everything they want to do — one of the larger shares of any state.

While Illinois residents report a strong sense of financial security and relatively average social well-being, sense of purpose, and physical health, they have a weaker relationship with their community than nearly any other state. Only 57% of adults believe the area where they live is the perfect place for them, and just 75% agree they always feel safe and secure, each the seventh smallest share of any state. One factor that can erode community bonds is violent crime. Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities in the country, and throughout the state there were 436 violent crimes per 100,000 Illinois residents in 2016 — one of the higher crime rates among states.

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37. South Carolina
> Residents who like what they do every day: 73.0% (8th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 75.5% (19th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 54.2% (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.3% (14th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 501.8 per 100,000 (10th highest)

The typical South Carolina household earns just $49,501 a year, over $8,000 less than the national median household income of $57,617. Low incomes are likely to contribute to a sense of financial stress and insecurity among residents. In South Carolina, approximately 35% of surveyed residents said they worry about money on a regular basis and 12% said they are not satisfied with their standard of living — each some of the larger shares of any state.

Income is one of the primary determinants of health, and state residents also report some of the worst health behaviors and outcomes of any state. Only 60% of adults believe they eat healthy all day, one of the largest shares in the country. Additionally, 23% do not believe that they feel active and productive on a daily basis, the seventh largest share of any state. Overall, 405 in every 100,000 South Carolina residents die before the age of 75 — the ninth highest premature mortality rate nationwide.

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38. Alabama
> Residents who like what they do every day: 73.2% (11th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 74.3% (15th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 49.7% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 17.1% (7th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 532.3 per 100,000 (7th highest)

Both physical and financial health can be critical to personal well-being, and a relatively large share of adults in Alabama do not benefit from either. Just 37.6% of respondents in the state agree they have enough money to do everything they want, the third smallest share of any state. Low incomes are partially to blame for the financial insecurity as about 1 in 10 Alabama households live on $10,000 or less a year compared to 6.7% of American households. Poor physical health is also relatively common in Alabama. The shares of adults suffering from physical pain and the share who have struggled with high blood pressure or high cholesterol are each some of the largest in the country.

While Alabama lags behind most states in measures of overall well-being, state residents are not lacking in having a sense of purpose. For example, a near nation-leading 65.2% of survey respondents in Alabama have a leader in their life that makes them enthusiastic about the future, well above the 59.5% U.S. average.

39. Missouri
> Residents who like what they do every day: 73.1% (10th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 75.9% (13th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 54.4% (25th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (22nd highest)
> Violent crime rate: 519.4 per 100,000 (8th highest)

Certain healthy behaviors can be critical to maintaining good physical health, and adults in Missouri are among the least likely to engage in such behaviors. Just 54.2% of respondents in the state eat enough fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis, the fifth smallest share among states. Additionally, only 53.6% of adults in the state get enough exercise, slightly less than the 55.0% of American adults nationwide. Likely partially as a result, Missouri residents are less likely to assess their own health as near-perfect than the typical American adult.

Learning new things every day and relying on your strengths to realize your full potential can greatly increase your sense of purpose. In Missouri, just 65.2% of adults use their strengths every day, and 62.2% learn or do something interesting every day — below the respective 67.5% and 64.8% shares of American adults.

40. Delaware
> Residents who like what they do every day: 71.4% (4th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 72.2% (3rd lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 54.7% (20th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (16th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 508.8 per 100,000 (9th highest)

The typical Delaware household earns $61,757 a year, over $4,000 more than the national median. While high incomes generally provide residents with a feeling of financial security, adults in Delaware report a higher degree of financial stress than nearly any other state. Approximately 36% of adults regularly worry about money, and 13% are unsatisfied with their standard of living — the fourth and fifth largest shares in the country.

Delaware residents also report far less community pride than the average American. Only 60% of adults in Delaware are proud of their community, and just 73% always feel safe and secure — the fifth and fourth smallest shares of any state. One factor eroding the relationship between Delaware residents and their community may be the state’s high violent crime rate. There were 509 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, the ninth highest rate of any state.