The 10 ‘Happiest States’ in America
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The Fiscal Times
March 3, 2014

After four years enjoying its status at the happiest state in America, Hawaii has been knocked down the list by an unlikely contender: North Dakota.

The booming, oil-rich state nabbed the top spot on the annual State of the States Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index released this week.

Proving that you don’t need a warm climate to be happy, South Dakota and Nebraska rounded out the top three states on the list. For the fifth year in a row, West Virginia and Kentucky had the two lowest well-being scores.

Slideshow: The 10 Happiest States in America

States in the Midwest and West received nine of the top 10 highest well-being scores in 2013, while Southern states had eight of the 10 lowest well-being scores.

The state-level data are based on more than 178,000 interviews with adults throughout 2014, tracking such factors as life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and basic necessities. Eight of the 10 states had the lowest unemployment rates in the country as of last December.

On a scale of zero to 100, North Dakota’s Well-Being Index Score was 70.4, while the national Well-Being Index score for 2013 dipped to 66.2 from 66.7. In addition to having the best overall score, North Dakota scored the highest on work environment and physical health.

Nebraska boasted the highest score on the Life Evaluation Index; Alaska scored best on the emotional health index, and Vermont led the pack in healthy behaviors. Massachusetts ranked highest on the basic access index, partly reflecting its status in 2013 as the state with the highest percentage of residents with health insurance.

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Life + Money Editor Beth Braverman covers all things personal finance. Formerly a senior reporter and social media editor at MONEY magazine, she’s also held gigs as a newspaper reporter and trade magazine editor.