The latest Gallup Poll says well-being of Americans hasn't improved in the past six years, and it even declined slightly in 2013.|
West Virginia remains at the bottom of the list for the fifth consecutive year, the most miserable in the well-being index.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, based on interviews with more than 176,000 people from all 50 states last year, measures the physical and emotional health of Americans across the country.
Well-being matters because it effectively reflects health, employment, education and the local environment, said Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Witters suggested that this means that a strong economy and a healthy, educated workforce can improve well-being.
Because these relationships appear to exist, "there's a lot of things that employers or communities can do structurally, culturally, legislatively, that can positively affect change around well-being," Witters added.
In states with high well-being scores, residents were less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise regularly and learn new things every day. These states also enjoyed the positive outcomes of such behaviors, including lower obesity rates and other common health problems.
The opposite was generally true for states with low well-being, where residents were more likely to have unhealthy lifestyles or limited access to basic necessities. As a result, they tended to feel physically and emotionally unhealthy.
TEN UNHAPPIEST STATES
West Virginia (bottom) Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
TEN HAPPIEST STATES
North Dakota (top), South Dakota, Nebraska. Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Iowa.