The Well-Being Journal

New Research Reveals State Rankings of Well-Being Nationwide

Cameron Bowman

Emphasis on well-being by community leaders, government, employers and other population health stakeholders has never been more prominent. Well-being captures how people feel about and experience their daily lives. It is directly correlated with important business and community metrics, such as healthcare utilization and cost, and productivity measures such as absenteeism and job performance. It is an effective gauge to assess and acknowledge environments where people can live their best lives and do their best work.

With the release of a new report from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, you can gain new insight into the state of well-being across the nation.

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The report, “State of American Well-Being: 2015 State Rankings”, provides an overview of well-being trends within the United States. As in prior years, well-being in the U.S. exhibits regional patterns. The northern plains and mountain west are higher well-being areas, along with some western states and pockets of the northeast and Atlantic.  The lowest well-being states are in the south and move north through the industrial Midwest.

Hawaii reclaimed the top well-being spot among all states in the U.S. with Alaska, 2014’s top state, claiming the second spot. Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona and California rounded out the rest of the top 10. Kentucky and West Virginia continued to have the lowest well-being in the nation, ranking 49th and 50th, respectively, and have so for the past seven straight years.

To discover where other states — including yours — fall within the rankings, download a copy of the report today. You can also subscribe to content from the Well-Being Index. By subscribing, we’ll let you know when we release new research and insights from the Well-Being Index.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and collects self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations.

Topics: Well-Being Index State Rankings

Quantifying Well-Being: A Big Idea for 2016

Cameron Bowman

In his contribution to LinkedIn’s #BigIdeas2016 series, Deepak Chopra, world renowned author and speaker, shared his view on the increased importance of well-being transparency and assessment as we move further into an age where health can be quantified and bolstered by technology.

For some, well-being may be an ambiguous concept that holds little importance to the material world. However, through research conducted by Gallup and Healthways, well-being is no longer a misunderstood idea nor an intangible notion - it can be definitively measured and interpreted.

Since 2008, Gallup and Healthways have partnered to understand the well-being of both individuals and populations. Together, we measure and study well-being so we can act efficiently and effectively to improve it. We have made it easier for business leaders and government officials to make informed decisions by helping them understand and quantify well-being through two key initiatives.

The first, a scientific survey instrument and reporting experience called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being 5™, is used to give each participant a “single number that informs you of your total state of wellbeing,” as Dr. Chopra says of the ideal quantification, “evaluating not just the body's vital signs but the mind-body connection as well.” It measures the five interrelated elements that research has shown to have the greatest impact on an individual’s well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Insights gained through this assessment help individuals take the first steps on their journey to living better.

Our second initiative, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, takes the concept of quantifying well-being at an individual level and expands it to include communities, states and nations. The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index uses self-reported data from individuals across the planet to create a unique view of global states of mind and societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being. Globally, higher well-being has been associated with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience — for example, healthcare utilization, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, lowered daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism, and willingness to help others. Understanding these relationships allows world leaders insight into their populations that might not be otherwise transparent.

In his post, Dr. Chopra states “in short, wellness is about to become much more transparent as technology quantifies all the factors that contribute to wellbeing.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Topics: Well-Being Index Gallup

New Report Based on Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Data Provides Insight into Americans’ Financial Well-Being

Madison Agee

An often overlooked determinant of overall health, medical costs, and performance and productivity, financial well-being is of considerable strategic importance to healthcare providers, payers and plans, as well as other population health stakeholders. With the release of a new report from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, these stakeholders can gain new insights into the state of Americans’ financial well-being.Gallup-Healthways_State_of_American_Well-Being_2014_Financial_Rankings_vFINAL1-1

The report, “State of American Well-Being: 2014 Financial Well-Being Rankings”, provides a snapshot of financial well-being in the United States, revealing that fewer than two out of five Americans (39 percent) are thriving in financial well-being. Thriving in financial well-being does not necessarily mean that people feel like they’re earning enough money, but rather how well they feel they’re managing their economic life to reduce stress and increase security.

Those people thriving in financial well-being are less likely than those suffering or struggling to be depressed, be obese or have high blood pressure. They’re also more likely to engage in healthy behaviors such as eating fresh produce, exercising and not smoking. 

The report also provides a ranking of all 50 states based on this element. Hawaii ranks highest for financial well-being, followed by Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming and South Dakota. Most of these states are also in the top five rankings for overall well-being, with the exception of North Dakota, which ranked 23rd in 2014 for overall well-being.

Financial well-being is lowest in Mississippi, which ranked 50th in the country. The South dominates the list of ten states with the lowest financial well-being, with Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana and Kentucky rounding out the lowest five states.

You can read more about the rankings here and download a copy of the report here.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations. Previous Gallup and Healthways research shows that high well-being closely relates to key health outcomes such as lower rates of healthcare utilization, lower workplace absenteeism and better workplace performance, change in obesity status and new onset disease burden.

To discover where other states — including yours — fall within the rankings, download a copy of the report today. You can also subscribe to content from the Well-Being Index; by subscribing, we’ll let you know when we release new reports and insights from the Well-Being Index.

Topics: Financial Well-Being Well-Being Well-Being Index State Rankings

Inaugural Older Americans Report Looks at Well-Being Among Those Over the Age of 55

Madison Agee

The growing percentage of the American population oolder-americans-cover-thumbver the age of 55 — a trend largely driven by the Baby Boomers entering later life — has important implications for a variety of stakeholders, including families, employers, healthcare providers and policymakers. Greater insight into the well-being of these older Americans is now available with the release of an inaugural report based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®.


The report, “State of American Well-Being: State Well-Being Rankings for Older Americans”, examines the comparative well-being of Americans age 55 and older, and reveals that, nationally, adults 55 and older have higher well-being than the rest of the population. The report also ranks the well-being of these older adults in all 50 states.

Older Americans have the highest well-being in the state of Hawaii, followed by Montana, South Dakota, Alaska and Iowa. Well-being for adults age 55 and older is lowest in West Virginia. The other states with low well-being for older adults are Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio and Indiana. You can read more about the rankings here and download a copy of the report here

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations. Previous Gallup and Healthways research shows that high well-being closely relates to key health outcomes such as lower rates of healthcare utilization, lower workplace absenteeism and better workplace performance, change in obesity status and new onset disease burden.

To discover where other states — including yours — fall within the rankings, download a copy of the report today. You can also subscribe to content from the Well-Being Index; by subscribing, we’ll let you know when we release new reports and insights from the Well-Being Index.
Topics: Aging Seniors Well-Being Index