Did you know that U.S. states with richer, better educated and more accepting residents are also happier? A report from the University of Cambridge, England, proved just that after interviewing more than 350,000 individuals between Jan. 2 and Dec. 30, 2008.
The study was part the Gallup Organization's Well-Being Index. According to the index, there are six types of well-being: overall life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors and job satisfaction. And apparently, geography. It seems that people are happiest in the Mountain states and West Coast states, to be followed by the Eastern Seaboard, Midwest and then finally the Southern states.
And what makes a happy resident? According to this study, wealthy states have a stronger infrastructure to help meet its peoples’ needs. It also depends on the residents. Apparently, the number of bohemians aka “artists,” gays, and foreign-born residents make for a happier people. Also, if the state has a large number of people with “super-creative” advanced educations, its happiness rating will go up. “Super-creative” jobs are entertainment, sports and media occupations, as well as architecture, engineering, computer and math jobs and more.
Also, states with higher gross regional product per capita — this is a state's level of productivity and standard of living — were happier than poorer states. This includes a higher income level and median housing value. Study researcher Jason Rentfrow points out that this makes sense, as wealthier individuals tend to be healthier as they are better educated. They are more knowledgeable about eating well, and they more likely to have health insurance.
So what are the happiest states? Naturally, if you’re going to think about bohemian, super creative states — you’re going to think of Utah! Yes, Utah came in as the happiest state in the Union. Ed Diener is a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies well-being. (He was not involved in this study.) Diener points out that research suggests right-leaning individuals are a bit happier than others.
Hawaii is next on the list of happiest states, likely due to its laid-back lifestyle. Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Washington, Massachusetts, California and Arizona round out the top 10.
And the bottom five? That would be Arkansas, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia. You can see the entire list of 50 states ranked in terms of happiness here.