- The pursuit of happiness is a basic American value, written into the Declaration of Independence.
- This map shows how Americans in each state rate their overall happiness and well-being on an index assembled by Gallup and Sharecare.
- South Dakota and Vermont top the list, while West Virginia and Louisiana are struggling.
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Happiness and living the good life are a cornerstone of the American Dream. The authors of the Declaration of Independence made sure to list fundamental rights as those of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” when they drafted the decisive document.
To get a sense of how that part of the American Dream is doing across the country, we concluded our recent roundup of 50 of our favorite maps that explain the social geography of America with the above entry, showing the Gallup-Sharecare Well Being Index for each state in 2017.
The index, based on a survey of over 160,000 adults across the US from polling firm Gallup and health-and-wellness company Sharecare, is based on how respondents feel like they’re doing on five indicators of a happy, healthy, and secure life: a sense of purpose, a supportive social network, financial security, feeling safe and happy in one’s community, and being in generally good health.
South Dakota and Vermont came out on top as the states with the best overall well-being scores on the survey, while West Virginia and Louisiana were struggling as the states with the lowest and second-lowest scores, respectively.
In their report on the index, Gallup and Sharecare pointed out that South Dakota had the highest score on the sense of purpose sub-index, while Vermont had the highest community and physical health scores among the states. Meanwhile, respondents in West Virginia had the lowest physical well-being score, and Louisiana had the lowest score for community well-being and the second-lowest for financial well-being.
Gallup and Sharecare noted that in the US as a whole, overall well-being scores declined between 2016 and 2017, and there was a statistically significant drop in well-being in 21 states, “easily the largest year-over-year decline in the 10-year history of the Well-Being Index,” according to the report.