South Dakota is the 11th happiest state in the nation, according to a new Gallup survey.
On Thursday, Gallup released results of its Well-being Index. The survey was conducted from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. A random sample of 353,564 American adults was asked about life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to health essentials.
Hawaii earned the highest well-being in the nation for the fourth consecutive year. Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont rounded out the top five states with the highest well-being scores; Iowa was ranked 9th.
For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia was the unhappiest state. According to Gallup, West Virginians had the worst emotional health in the nation and were more likely to report being diagnosed with depression than residents of any other state.
Gallup also reported that West Virginia had the lowest score on the Physical Health Index, which includes having the highest percentage of obese residents in the nation.
Gallup concludes that overall well-being in the U.S. has remained mostly unchanged from 2008 to 2012 (recession years), despite some signs of economic improvements.
Gallup says the lack of progress among the state's with the lowest well-being scores may be related to low household income levels. Nearly all of the states with the lowest well-being scores in 2012 are also the lowest median household incomes.
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