Where Are the 20 Happiest States in America?

Where Are the 20 Happiest States in America?
Photo by Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock.com

They say money can’t buy happiness, but study after study has found some truth to the connection between income and happiness.

So when WalletHub set out to identify the happiest U.S. states, the financial data site examined 28 measures of both financial security and “a pleasant state of being.”

For example, those 28 metrics include:

  • Income-growth rate
  • Number of work hours
  • Physical health index (measures self-reported effects of disease on personal happiness)
  • Emotional health index (measures self-reported effects of emotional well-being on personal happiness)
  • Divorce rate (includes adult population that is separated from spouse)
  • Average leisure time per day

WalletHub then graded each state on a 100-point scale, with 100 reflecting “maximum happiness.”

Utah came out on top with an overall score of 71.02. Compare that with West Virginia, which ranked last with a score of 32.65.

The top 20 ranked states are:

  1. Utah
  2. Minnesota
  3. North Dakota
  4. Hawaii
  5. Colorado
  6. Idaho
  7. Iowa
  8. Nebraska
  9. South Dakota
  10. California
  11. New Hampshire
  12. Washington
  13. Wyoming
  14. Vermont
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Massachusetts
  17. Connecticut
  18. District of Columbia
  19. Delaware
  20. New Jersey

Out of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Utah has the:

  • Highest volunteerism rate (45.2 percent)
  • Lowest divorce rate (15.97 percent)
  • Lowest rate of heart attack diagnosis (2.7 percent)
  • Fewest work hours (36.8 hours per week)

If you’re worried about having to move to Utah to find happiness, however, don’t be.

Darrin McMahon, a history professor at Dartmouth College and author of the book “Happiness: A History,” tells WalletHub:

“It is certainly true that there are happier (and less happy) places. You are better off in Belgium than Botswana for many reasons. But the bottom line is that external circumstances turn out not to have a big influence on personal happiness — probably only about 10%.

The big drivers are genes (50%) and ‘intention actions’ — in other words, how you choose to deal with the hand life has dealt you. So if you were born and live in the land of milk and honey, great. But if you don’t, don’t worry. Being happy is still up to you.”

For more help with the connection between money and happiness, check out “The 10 Commandments of Wealth and Happiness.”

How would you score your state for happiness? Let us know below or on Facebook.

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