Alaska Leads U.S. States in Well-Being for First Time
Reposted with permission from Gallup
Hawaii, Colorado Lead All States With Most Top 10 Rankings
Hawaii and Colorado are the only two states to be in the top 10 for well-being every year since tracking began in 2008. In addition to these two states, 10 others have finished in the top 10 at least three times in the past seven years: Montana, Utah, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont.
Arkansas, Ohio, and Mississippi join West Virginia and Kentucky as the only states that have appeared among the lowest 10 well-being states in all seven years of tracking.
Hawaii and South Dakota Each Lead in Two of Five Elements of Well-Being
Alaskans, in addition to having the highest overall well-being, also had the highest ranking in purpose well-being across the nation. Hawaii (financial and physical) and South Dakota (social and community) each lead the nation in two elements of well-being.
West Virginia (purpose and physical) is the only state to rank last for more than one element in 2014.
Improving and sustaining high well-being is vital to any population’s overall health and economy. Previous Gallup and Sharecare research shows that high well-being closely relates to key health outcomes such as lower rates of healthcare utilization, workplace absenteeism and workplace performance, change in obesity status and new onset disease burden. Well-being is also a predictor of business outcomes such as employee engagement, customer engagement, turnover and workplace safety, which can affect a population’s ability to reach its economic potential.
High well-being is also strongly related to important societal outcomes such as lower rates of teen pregnancy and crime, as well as higher high school graduation rates and more charitable giving.
Nationally, many aspects of well-being have improved in 2014 to their best levels since measurement began in 2008. For example, life evaluation, which is a key outcome of well-being and a high-level measure of how people think about and evaluate their lives,reached its highest recorded point in the U.S. in 2014. The rate of uninsured Americans fell to a low of 12.9% in the fourth quarter of 2014, indicating that millions of previously uninsured Americans now have insurance. And the Gallup Standard of Living Index reached a seven-year high of +50 by the end of 2014.
Other U.S. metrics point in the opposite direction. Obesity, for example, reached its highest point in 2014, climbing to 27.7%, and is now two full percentage points higher than in 2008. The rise in obesity coupled with improving metrics elsewhere illustrates the need for measuring well-being comprehensively, rather than focusing on one or two aspects.
Regardless of national trends, states’ efforts to improve well-being should be customized to meet the needs of city and rural populations alike, always mindful of unique state subcultures. States and local communities can use well-being concepts and the five elements as focal points in designing and implementing initiatives to improve well-being. For example, Blue Zones Project initiatives in California, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas and Hawaii involve multifaceted programs and community actions aimed at improving many aspects of well-being. Specific interventions include working with schools, employers, grocery stores and restaurants to foster healthier choices. Other initiatives include working with governmental and other agencies to enact changes that increase opportunities for healthier lifestyles and community life, such as more walkable and bike-friendly environments, farmer’s markets and social activities. But perhaps the most important aspect of a successful program is a strong, uniform and sustained voice from governmental and organizational leadership, which can play a pivotal role in providing the foundation upon which a culture of well-being can be built.
Read the State of American Well-Being report to see the complete state well-being rankings.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2014, as a part of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, with a random sample of 176,702 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error for the Well-Being Index score is ±0.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The margin of sampling error for most states is about ±0.6 percentage points, although this increases to about ±1.6 points for the smallest-population states such as North Dakota, Wyoming, Hawaii and Delaware. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Learn more about how the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index works.