What Are the Happiest States in the US?

The Top 5 Happiest State in the US

According to a study done by Amerisleep, the happiest state in the US are:

  1. North Dakota
  2. Vermont
  3. Nebraska
  4. South Dakota
  5. California

The Top 5 Least Happy States Are: 

  1. Ohio
  2. Nevada
  3. Tennessee
  4. West Virginia
  5. Kentucky

Measuring Happiness in US

This study measured 7 factors to estimate the happiest state in the US (in order of their importance): 

  1. Health
  2. Education
  3. Work-Life Balance
  4. Environment
  5. Safety
  6. Housing
  7. Income    

These broad 7 categories were further subdivided into 17 different areas, such as: 

  1. Population with depression  
  2. Population with insufficient seep  
  3. Number of health clubs  
  4. Number of suicides
  5. Average working hours  
  6. Income growth  
  7. Divorce rate  
  8. Volunteer rate  
  9. Average commute time
  10. Average house size
  11. Percentage of trees covering the state  
  12. Number of national parks  
  13. Open spaces and beauty  
  14. Safety  
  15. Number of higher education places  
  16. Number of hospitals

Happiest State in the US: Full Ranking

Here is the full list of states and their respective ranking in the happiest states in the US are:

  1. North Dakota
  2. Vermont
  3. Nebraska
  4. South Dakota
  5. California
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Iowa
  8. Montana
  9. Oregon
  10. Utah
  11. Wyoming
  12. Georgia
  13. Minnesota
  14. Alaska
  15. Idaho
  16. South Carolina
  17. New Jersey
  18. Mississippi
  19. Connecticut
  20. Delaware
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Alabama
  23. Wisconsin
  24. Kansas
  25. Virginia
  26. Texas
  27. Louisiana
  28. Maine
  29. Colorado
  30. New Hampshire
  31. North Carolina
  32. Arkansas
  33. Maryland
  34. New York
  35. Arizona
  36. Florida
  37. Hawaii
  38. Indiana
  39. Oklahoma
  40. New Mexico
  41. Washington
  42. Missouri
  43. Illinois
  44. Michigan
  45. Pennsylvania
  46. Ohio
  47. Nevada
  48. Tennessee
  49. West Virginia
  50. Kentucky

Criticism to the Happiest States in the US Data

As someone who lives in Europe (London, United Kingdom) I need to admit that to this date I haven’t been to US. I know a lot about it predominately from books, movies, and news, which I know isn’t the best way to get an impression of a country. 

Still, as someone interested in the topic of happiness, I was curious as to which are the happiest states in the US as a way of trying to learn a bit more about how to build the happiest society (a topic discussed in the next book I’m currently writing, so stay tuned!). 

Yet, the biggest criticism I have towards the above study is who exactly wrote it. Amerisleep sells mattresses, pillows, bedding, and other related sleep items. What business do they have in writing about happiness? I mean, nowadays, everyone has something to say about happiness, most likely when it is related to their business. Still, where is the connection between happiness and mattresses? 

We can especially see a problem with “who wrote this” issue when we look at things like “health,” which I imagine is broadly defined as both physical health and mental health (completely two different topics). Also, what does “number of health clubs” have to do with anything?

As such, the data used in to calculate the above ranking is good, but is it the best data possible? I imagine that if this research was done by someone who is an expert on the topic of happiness then they would choose a better different set of data points, making a ranking completely different map in the process. 

In addition, what year pertains to the above study? Looking at their sources (see below), I estimate the year of the study to be 2019, which is a good time to state that I don’t imagine that Amerisleep will continue to measure happiness next year. This would be ideal to make an overtime comparison of happiness in different states.

Future Research

Of course, it is easier to criticize someone’s work than to create something. This is why I still praise work done by Amerisleep as sometimes a road to success requires a learning curve. Furthermore, we can already try to understand if we agree with Amerisleep, such as if in fact North Dakota, Vermont, Nebraska, South Dakota, and California are the happiest states in the US, while Ohio, Nevada, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky are the least happy. 

We could also look at different regions and cities within every state. Who is the happiest or unhappiest there?

We can try to understand whether other variables, like the political orientation of a state (conservative vs liberal), would play any role in the ranking. This is all important data, which could be used in future research.

Sources

To calculate the happiest state in the US raking Amerisleep used the following data sources:

Better Life Index – https://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/responses/#US  

Depression Rate – https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/depression-rates-by-state  

Insufficient Sleep – https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html and https://www.zippia.com/advice/most-exhausted-states/  

Suicide Numbers – https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/suicide-rates-by-state  

Work Hours – https://www.business.org/hr/workforce-management/most-overworked-states/  

Divorce Rate – https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/divorce-rate-by-state  

Unemployment Rate – https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm  

Income Growth – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_states_and_territories_of_the_United_States_by_GDP  

Volunteer Rate – https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/04/us/volunteering-statistics-united-states-america-cfc/index.html and https://americorps.gov/sites/default/files/document/Volunteering_in_America_States_508.pdf  

Safest State – https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/safest-states  

Greenest State – https://www.mphonline.org/green-states/  

Stay happy!

Roman Russo

Roman Russo

Roman Russo is the founder, main author, and Chief Happiness Officer at Optimal Happiness. He is also the author of Optimal Happiness: The Fastest & Surest Way to Reach Your Happiest Potential, a revolutionary book about becoming the happiest version we can be. After studying this topic for over 8 years Roman believes that everyone can reach their happiest potential, challenging people to reach these highs. Are you ready to accept this challenge?

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