North Dakota Ranks Number One On 2013 Well-Being Index
February 21, 2014

North Dakota Ranks Number One On 2013 Well-Being Index

[ Watch the Video: What State Is The Happiest? ]

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Healthways, a global well-being improvement leader, has for the sixth consecutive year partnered with leading consulting firm Gallup to create an analysis of the “state of well-being across the United States.” Launched in 2008, the annual report is based on data gathered from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® (GHWBI), which measures real-time changes in well-being around the world.

For the 2013 analysis, more than 178,000 phone interviews were conducted across the US, with researchers examining Americans’ perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, lifestyle behaviors, work environment, social factors, finances, and access to food, shelter and healthcare. The data were compiled to create a composite well-being rank for each state.

Conducting an average of 500 phone interviews per day, the Gallup surveys result in a sample of an estimated 95 percent of all US households.

As with previous reports, the latest poll shows where each state ranks in regards to overall well-being. On top in this year’s ranking is North Dakota, having the highest well-being in the nation in 2013, according to the GHWBI. Other states in the top ten include South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Iowa, respectively.

As for North Dakota, reaching the top spot in 2013 was a significant jump, as the state’s well-being ranking for 2012 was at a much lower 19th position. However, the state’s move to number one follows similar rankings it had in both 2009 and 2011, when it sat firmly in the top ten well-being states.

South Dakota, which is in the number two spot this year, is in the top ten for the first time since 2010. Washington, which is in ninth place this year, jumped from its 15th place last year. The other states in the top ten this year were all in the top ten last year, although positions have jostled around a bit.

Hawaii, which sat atop the rankings in 2012, fell to eighth place this year.

Despite not reaching the top ten, some states had made noticeably significant gains since last year’s poll was conducted.

Besides North Dakota’s jump of 19 position points, two other states had made significant gains in well-being. Alaska, which sat in 31st place in 2012, jumped 15 rank spots to 16th place this year. Similarly, Nevada jumped 13 positions from 39th in 2012 to 26th in 2013.

Other states that made gains this year over last year include Wisconsin, Maine, California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas.

A few states had slipped significantly from respectable rankings in 2012. Wyoming, which was the 13th most well-being state in 2012, dropped 21 spots to 34th place this year, the biggest change of any state, both up or down. Two other states also had relatively noticeable downward movements: Connecticut dropped 16 positions from 16th to 31st and Virginia dropped 10 spots from 14th to 24th.

Other states that fell in this year’s rankings are New Hampshire, Utah, Maryland, Kansas, Oregon, Delaware, Idaho, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Rhode Island, Missouri, Ohio and Alabama.

Only three states outside the top ten remained in their respective positions from last year. Interestingly enough, these three states are all at the bottom of the list: Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia, which is at number 50 for the second year in a row.

To reach the overall score on the GHWBI, each state was ranked on a series of six well-being sub-indexes. These sub-indexes included Life Evaluaton, Emotional Health, Work Environment, Physical Health, Healthy Behaviors and Basic Access.

To help catapult North Dakota to the number one spot, the state significantly excelled on two of the six sub-indexes: Work Environment and Physical Health. West Virginia, which firmly sits in the number 50 spot, ranked lowest on all but one of the six sub-indexes: Work Environment.

Overall well-being in the US and within each state has been fairly steady since the annual report began in 2008, although the overall GHWBI score fell some in 2013, dipping from 66.7 in 2012 to 66.2 this year. The overall score dropped despite improvement in economic confidence in most states.

The Gallup poll has shown that people take a variety of factors into account when they evaluate their well-being. Some of these factors include employment, job creation, payroll to population, smoking rates, etc.

The GHWBI is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, with a score of 100 representing ideal well-being. The Well-Being Index scores among the states varied within a nine-point range in 2013.

The full “State of American Well-Being: 2013 State, Community and Congressional District Analysis,” as well as state-level reports, will be available online in April. As well, the “State of Global Well-Being” reports are due out this summer.