Excerpts of Happiest States are Wealthy and Tolerant By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer, LiveScience.com
Though you might not be able to run away from your problems, moving to another state could be good for the soul. New research suggests U.S. states with wealthier, better educated and more tolerant residents are also happier on average.
The reasoning is that wealthy states can provide infrastructure and so it's easier for residents to get their needs met. In addition, states with a greater proportion of artists and gays would also be places where residents can freely express themselves.
On average, well-being was highest in the Mountain states and West Coast states, followed by the Eastern Seaboard and then the Midwest and Southern states.
"We can only make generalizations about groups of people," said study researcher Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge in England. "These results don't say wealthy people are happier than unwealthy people, [or that] people who live in areas where people are wealthy are happier."
Rentfrow and his colleagues came to their conclusions by analyzing data collected from more than 350,000 individuals who were interviewed between Jan. 2 and Dec. 30, 2008 as part of the Gallup Organization's Well-Being Index. The index includes six types of well-being: overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction.
Here are the top 10 states and their average well-being scores (out of a possible 100 points):
- Utah: 69.2
- Hawaii: 68.2
- Wyoming: 68
- Colorado: 67.3
- Minnesota: 67.3
- Maryland: 67.1
- Washington: 67.1
- Massachusetts: 67
- California: 67
- Arizona: 66.8