According to the latest The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, people in Utah reported being the happiest in the nation. West Virginia had the lowest score.
The research and methodology underlying the Well-Being Index is based on the World Health Organization definition of health as “not only the absence of infirmity and disease, but also a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.” Utah, with lots of outdoor recreation and a relatively young population, comes out on top, followed by Hawaii and Wyoming. At the bottom, just above West Virginia, were Kentucky and Mississippi. In general the highest scores came from the West, while the lowest were found in the Midwest and South.
More than just a survey of heath, the Well-Being Index measures people’s “ability to contribute at work and be more productive, and it’s about feeling engaged in a community and wanting to improve that community,” said a Gallup spokesman. The survey, which takes about 15 minutes, involved 42 core questions. Those taking the survey could get a score of up to 100. The actual difference between states wasn’t great: The average score for the highest-ranking state, Utah, was 69.2 points, while the average for the lowest-ranking state, West Virginia, was 61.2 points.
When broken down further to the congressional district level, wealth and income play a larger role. California’s 14th congressional district, home to Silicon Valley, comes out on top, while some of the poorest areas of the country can be found toward the bottom. Even if money can’t buy happiness, it sure does go a long way towards creating peace of mind. You can generate your own congressional district level map here.