Utah Tops the List of Happiest States in America 2016
Can money truly buy happiness? Most people might be inclined to say no, based on moral principles. But some researchers beg to differ, suggesting that money can indeed contribute to happiness — but only up to a certain dollar amount. According to their findings, life satisfaction, one of the two main components of happiness, increases as income rises — to a maximum of $75,000 a year. Beyond that figure, money makes little difference in a person’s overall contentment with life.
Reinforcing those findings are the annual results of a Gallup-Healthways poll measuring global well-being. According to Gallup-Healthways, “People who make more money tend to report higher positive emotions.” But income isn’t the only determinant of personal happiness. Apart from financial security, a pleasant state of being also depends on other factors, such as one’s physical health, personal purpose and social connectivity.
WalletHub’s analysts considered all of these elements to determine which states are home to the happiest Americans. In order to do so, we compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key metrics, ranging from emotional health to income levels to sports participation rates. Our findings, additional expert commentary and a detailed methodology can be found below.
‘Emotional & Physical Well-Being’ Rank
‘Work Environment’ Rank
‘Community & Environment’ Rank
|18||District of Columbia||57.01||8||35||26|
In order to determine the happiest states in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Emotional & Physical Well-Being, 2) Work Environment and 3) Community & Environment.
We evaluated these categories using 28 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing maximum happiness.
We then calculated overall scores for each state using the weighted average across all metrics, which we then used to construct our final ranking.
Our analysis draws upon the findings of the following reports, each of which has indicated a correlation between the listed metrics and happiness:
- Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity (Chan and Diener, 2010)
- Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences (Bhattacharjee and Mogilner, 2014)
- Sports Participation and Happiness: Evidence from U.S. Micro Data (Huang and Humphreys, 2010)
- Unhappy Cities (Glaeser, et al., 2014)
Emotional & Physical Well-Being - Total Points: 50
- Satisfaction Index (measures self-reported levels of general satisfaction with life): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Hedonometer Rank (measures personal expression of hedonism on social media): Half Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Physical Health Index (measures self-reported effects of disease on personal happiness): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Depression Rate (measures percentage of individuals who were diagnosed with depression): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Adequate-Sleep Rate (measures self-reported effects of sleep deprivation on personal happiness): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Emotional Health Index (measures self-reported effects of emotional well-being on personal happiness): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Obesity Rate (measures percentage of overweight or obese individuals): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Binge-Drinking Rate (measures self-reported effects of high alcohol consumption on happiness): Half Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Food Insecurity Rate: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Rate of Heart Attacks (measures percentage of individuals who were diagnosed with a heart attack): Half Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Life Expectancy: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Sports Participation Rate (measures happiness gained from physical activity through sports): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Illness & Disability Index (measures self-reported effects of illness and disability on personal happiness): Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Suicide Rate: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
Work Environment - Total Points: 25
- Commute Time: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Income Level (personal earnings adjusted by cost of living): Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Number of Work Hours: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Current Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Long-Term Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Job Security (measures probability of unemployment): Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Income-Growth Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Community & Environment - Total Points: 25
- Volunteerism Rate: Half Weight (~2.27 Points)
- WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Half Weight (~2.27 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Half Weight (~2.27 Points)
- Leisure Time Spent on an Average Day: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Divorce Rate (also includes adult population that is separated): Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Population-Growth Rate: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- WalletHub “Safety” Ranking: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Feeding America, Corporation for National and Community Service, Gallup-Healthways, TripAdvisor, Hedonometer.org, Social Science Research Council, Regents of the University of Minnesota and WalletHub research.