What’s the happiest state in the US?
Alaska is the happiest state in America--at least according to the latest Gallup-Healthways survey.
This annual survey ranks the well-being of each state based on participant impressions of their sense of purpose, social connections, finances, community, and physical health. This year, more than 176,000 adults across the U.S. were interviewed. The study has been conducted each year since 2008. This is the first time Alaska has ranked at the top, with a score of 64.7 out of 100.
Hawaii, which finished first for three years between 2009 and 2012, came in second this time. Rounding out the top five were South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Overall, the researchers found that people in northern plains and mountain states tended to be happier than in other regions of the country. One notable exception was North Dakota, which fell to 23rd place after finishing first in 2013. This drop was mostly due to a decline in how people in the state viewed their lives, and also an increase there in unhealthy behavior, such as higher smoking rates and less exercise. Once again Kentucky and West Virginia finished at the bottom of the list.
One element of the survey allows participants to suggest ways their state can improve quality of life. In the 2014 survey, suggestions included providing more wholesome foods in grocery stores, increasing social activities or creating more sidewalks in certain areas. The researchers contend that the study reflects health and work conditions--which often relates to obesity rates, workplace engagement and work performance.