Many quality of life factors are interdependent and affect each other. Higher incomes provide financial security and affords access to education, health care, and an overall healthier lifestyle. In states where incomes tend to be higher, other measures of quality of life, including health outcomes, tend to be better as well. For example, the states that have higher median household incomes rank among those with the longest life expectancy.
Not all high-income states have a strong economy across the entirety of the state. Massachusetts and New York have some of the highest median household incomes, but they both have high rates of income inequality. New York, in particular, has an above average share of people living in poverty, as well.
Those who hold a bachelor’s degree tend to live longer, healthier lives and earn higher incomes. Having a college degree can also increase the likelihood of securing a stable job.
Health outcomes are another factor in determining the quality of life in a state. The rates of obesity and premature death, as well as the share of state residents who report they are in good mental and physical health all play a role in life expectancy.
To identify the best and worst states to live in, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index comprised of three socioeconomic measures for each state: poverty rate, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and life expectancy at birth. The selection of these three measures was inspired by the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Poverty rates and bachelor degree attainment rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). Life expectancies at birth are from the The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and are as of 2014, the latest year for which data is available. Unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are annual for 2017. Crime data came from the FBI’s 2017 Uniform Crime Report.