Which are the happiest states and why?
Does it have to do with weather? I’m sure with the grueling winter weather in the northern states this year, people are thinking “sunbelt.” But, surprisingly, climate seems to be less of a factor than geography. All of the states in the top 10 are in the Western half of the country.
Does it have to do with taxes? There seems to be a reverse correlation between taxes and happiness, as one might expect, but it is not 100%. While there are several tax-free states on the list, including the top slot, most tax-free states are not on the list. Similarly, most of the states on the list are not tax-free states.
The 2014 Well-Being survey lists well-being in five categories, including Purpose (liking what you do/ being motivated), Social (supportive relationships and love), Financial (managing finances to reduce stress / increase security), Community (liking where you live, etc.) and Physical (health and energy). The state ranking is part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report.
The ranking lists the following states:
Texas ranked 2 in Purpose while 23 in Physical and 26 in Financial.
- New Mexico
New Mexico ranked 3 in Purpose and 5 in Physical, while ranking mediocre by all three other measures.
Utah ranked well in Community (7) and Social (11), while faring less well in Purpose (23) and Financial (33) well-being.
Nebraska ranked consistently well (5-7) in every category, except Physical (33).
Colorado ranked 6 for Physical, 10-16 for most other categories, with its lowest ranking being Social (20).
Montana ranked 2 for Community, 8-10 for most categories, except Social (33).
Wyoming fared remarkably well in almost every category. Its best category was Social (2), while its worst category was Physical (12).
- South Dakota
Like Wyoming, South Dakota did well consistently. It ranked 1 in two categories, Social and Community, while only ranking above 5 in one category, Physical (11).
The runner-up in the Well-Being survey is not surprising. Hawaii is the one state on the list which most of us would have guessed would be on the list. Like South Dakota, Hawaii ranked 1 in two categories, Financial and Physical, while ranking above 5 in one category, Social (28).
Surprising to many, Alaska took top honors in the Well-Being survey. It ranked 1 in Purpose, 2 in Financial and Physical, and its worst ranking was 7, in Social.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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