Special Report

America’s Luckiest -- and Unluckiest -- States

Is there a correlation between the state where you live and how lucky you are? It might. It might seem that way. Your chances of dying in a car crash or other accident; your employment and financial status; your lifespan; and even your chances of winning a lottery — which might be considered the ultimate indicator of luck — vary dramatically from one state to another. (Luck aside, these are the best and worst states to live in.)

To determine the luckiest (and unluckiest) states, 24/7 Tempo created an index based on a number of factors, using the most recent data available: average lottery winnings per adult;  number of traffic fatalities; total number of accidental deaths; life expectancy; and unemployment rate. We weighted each factor, giving full weight to lottery winnings per capita, traffic fatalities, and overall accidental deaths. Slightly less weight was given to life expectancy and unemployment rate. Not every state has a lottery, however, and in those cases, only the other factors were considered. (Data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the U.S. Census Bureau.)

If you’re looking to change your luck (and who isn’t?), a move to the Northeast looks like your best bet. Although the Northeast gets somewhat of a bad rap for its high cost of living and crowded cities, the residents of those states are pretty, well, lucky. Among the top five luckiest states, four — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and yes, much maligned New Jersey — are located along the upper Eastern Seaboard. (The outlier is Utah, ranked No. 5.) People in those states can expect to live to the age of about 80. 

Maybe it has something to do with that old saying about the “luck of the Irish.” Roughly 20% of the residents of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island claim Irish heritage, and New Jersey has the most Irish city in the U.S. — the shore town of Ocean City — where more than 30% of residents trace their ancestry to the Emerald Isle.

Click here to see America’s luckiest — and unluckiest — states

If those states have an abundance of good fortune, other states are less lucky. Unfortunately, a good number of those states are found in the South. The unluckiest state on this list is Mississippi, followed by Alabama and Oklahoma. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Mississippi and Alabama don’t have state lotteries, thereby lowering their residents’ chances of being lucky. If those states want to change their luck, a lottery may be a good idea. (For places that do have these games of chance, here’s how much the average person spends on the lottery in every state.)