Society

Map: Gallup Ranks States Based On Their Sense Of Well-Being

| by Jared Keever
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Those seeking a happiness or well-being boost might want to consider packing up, buying a parka and moving to Alaska. 

That’s according to the newly released Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which the state of Alaska has topped for the first time in the ranking’s history, The Washington Post reports. 

The 2014 rankings are based on interviews taken from 176,000 phone calls with people in all 50 states. The questions asked are meant to gauge how people feel about their daily lives and measure health in five categories. Respondents’ answers indicate how they feel about their social, financial, community and physical well-being as well as how they feel about their overall purpose.

Dan Witters, the research director for the Gallup index said Alaska topped the list because people there seem to have a broader understanding of what it means to be healthy. 

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“They do a lot of the blocking and tackling, as far as taking care of themselves and making good choices, but also demonstrating good holistic well-being in ways that extend beyond the conventional physical wellness,” Witters told USA Today.

But some were surprised by the ranking, even though the state has made the top 10 on the index four times in the last seven years. 

“The Gallup report doesn’t mention that the state has among the highest rates of suicide, sexual assault and other violence,” reported Alaska Public Radio Network on news of the results.

But others there said the ranking is well deserved, including Peter Pinney, Executive Dean for the College of Rural and Community Development at the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks campus. 

“Well, certainly we are leaders in lots of bad indicators in certain areas, but overall, depending on who you talk to, it is a state where people do pay attention and look out for each other,” Pinney said.

Following Alaska, to round out the top 10 on the index this year, were Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, New Mexico and Texas.

The 10 states ranked lowest were Missouri, Michigan, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

West Virginia has been ranked last for six consecutive years. 

Here's a map of the state rankings:

Sources: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, The Washington Post, USA Today, Alaska Public Radio Network

Photo Credit: Barbara/Flickr, WikiCommons