Special Report

The Well-Being of Every State From Best to Worst, According to New Study

Massachusetts was the state with best overall well-being in the nation in 2020, according to a new report released Tuesday, May 25, by digital health company Sharecare and the Boston University School of Public Health.

The report, based on more than 450,000 surveys across the U.S. last year, evaluates various dimensions of well-being. Well-being has emerged as an important concept in public policy in recent years because it can show how people perceive their own lives — a measurement that is not always captured by the many indicators of living conditions. (Here is the worst city to live in every state.)

We used external data to find commonalities between states with the best, middle, and low overall well-being. The states with the highest well-being scores tend to have higher median incomes, on the whole better access to healthy food, and better health outcomes such as lower adult obesity rates. The opposite tends to be true for states on the lower end of Sharecare’s ranking.

The report found that the top 10 states saw more than 20% lower COVID-19 incidence rates on average and upwards of 50% lower coronavirus-related death rates in comparison to states in the bottom 10. There are plenty of exceptions across all states. We included the total number of COVID-19 deaths in each state per 100,000 state residents as of May 24. (Here is a list of the worst pandemics in history.)

The states in our slideshow are ordered from highest to lowest overall well-being score.

To identify the states with the highest, lowest, and average overall well-being, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the overall well-being score from digital health company Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index. 

We included external data on median household income in each state from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, the percentage of each state’s population who are low-income and do not live close to a grocery store from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and each state’s adult obesity rate based on the percentage of the adult population (age 20 and older) that report a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2, also obtained from CHR.

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