For the fifth year in a row, the residents of West Virginia are the unhappiest people in the country, according to the State of the States Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index, released last week.
After the Mountain State, Kentucky ranked as the second most miserable state in the country, a rank it’s also held uncontested for the past five years. Mississippi, Alabama, and Ohio rounded out the 10 states with the worst scores.
The state-level data is based on more than 178,000 interviews with adults throughout 2013, tracking such factors as life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and basic necessities.
Southern states received eight of the 10 lowest well-being scores in 2013, while states in the Midwest and West received nine of the top 10 highest scores. North and South Dakota took the top two spots on the list – unseating Hawaii, which had remained on top for the past four years.
On a scale of zero to 100, West Virginia’s Well-Being Index Score was 61.4, while the national Well-Being Index Score for 2013 dipped to 66.2 from 66.7. By contrast, North Dakota’s score was 70.4.
Overall well-being in the United States has remained fairly steady since 2008, notwithstanding the slip last year.
Happiness in the United States, however, tends to lag behind that of other countries. According to the World-Happiness Report, the United States ranks 17 (of 130 countries studied) in happiness among nations, with Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland taking the top 3 spots.
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