skip to main content
Well-Being
Hawaii Tops U.S. in Wellbeing for Record 7th Time
Well-Being

Hawaii Tops U.S. in Wellbeing for Record 7th Time

Hawaii Tops U.S. in Wellbeing for Record 7th Time

Story Highlights

  • Hawaii edges out Wyoming and Alaska for top honors
  • West Virginians report lowest wellbeing for the 10th straight year
  • Hawaii and Colorado only states in top 10 every year since 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hawaii residents reported the highest wellbeing in the U.S. in 2018, reaching the top spot for the seventh time since Gallup began tracking wellbeing in 2008. Hawaii and Colorado have ranked among the top 10 states in wellbeing for the 11th consecutive year, the only two states to do so. West Virginia residents reported the lowest wellbeing for the 10th straight year.

States With Highest and Lowest Overall Wellbeing, 2018
Highest 10 Well-Being Index score Lowest 10 Well-Being Index score
Hawaii 64.6 West Virginia 57.0
Wyoming 64.2 Arkansas 58.7
Alaska 63.9 Kentucky 58.8
Montana 63.5 Mississippi 58.9
Utah 63.4 Tennessee 59.5
Colorado 63.4 Oklahoma 59.8
Vermont 63.3 Alabama 59.9
Delaware 62.9 Louisiana 60.0
South Dakota 62.7 Illinois 60.3
North Dakota 62.7 Indiana 60.3
Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index

Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Utah -- all states that have frequented the top 10 list in past years -- rounded out the top five in 2018. Arkansas, which was ranked 48th in 2017 and 2009, was ranked 49th in 2018 -- its lowest level ever -- and was followed by Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

These state-level data are based on more than 115,000 surveys with U.S. adults across all 50 states, conducted in all 12 months of 2018. The Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest possible wellbeing and 100 represents the highest possible wellbeing. The Well-Being Index score for the nation and for each state comprises metrics affecting overall wellbeing and each of the five essential elements of wellbeing:

  • Career: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Gallup has been tracking wellbeing nationally since 2008. Career wellbeing was previously named "purpose wellbeing," but the definition has remained constant.

As in prior years, wellbeing in the U.S. exhibits regional patterns. The Northern Plains and Mountain West are higher wellbeing areas, along with some Western states and pockets of the Northeast and Atlantic. The lowest wellbeing states are concentrated in the South and extend northward through the industrial Midwest.

Heat Map. Gallup Well-Being Index scores by state, 2018.

Wellbeing Declines Across U.S. for Second Straight Year

Wellbeing in the U.S., overall, continued to decline in 2018, with the national Well-Being Index score sliding to 61.2 from 61.5 in 2017. This extends a deterioration that began in 2017; over the past two years, the Well-Being Index has dropped 0.9 points.

While the declines were not as acute as in 2017, 2018 saw a continuation of some of the same narratives that were used to describe 2017's drop, including erosion in social and career wellbeing. Not all elements, however, suffered from these declines. Physical wellbeing improved in 2018, while financial and community wellbeing were unchanged.

U.S. Well-Being Index and Element Scores, 2014-2018
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Change since 2016 Change since 2017
Well-Being Index 61.6 61.7 62.1 61.5 61.2 -0.9* -0.3*
Physical score 61.0 60.9 61.1 60.5 61.0 -0.1 +0.5*
Community score 61.2 61.2 61.9 62.0 61.9 0.0 -0.1
Financial score 59.7 60.8 61.5 61.1 61.0 -0.5* -0.1
Social score 61.1 61.1 61.5 59.9 59.7 -1.8* -0.2*
Career score 60.2 60.5 61.1 59.7 59.5 -1.6* -0.2*
* Indicates statistically significant (p<.05) change
Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index

The less-severe drop nationally in 2018 was characterized by a much more balanced performance among states -- nearly as many had statistical improvements (seven) as declines (eight) when compared with the 2017 measurement. This was a far different year-over-year outcome than the record-setting change among states in 2017, when 21 states suffered a significant decline in wellbeing against no states that improved.

States that improved in 2018 were Alaska, Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, Louisiana, Washington and Ohio. States that declined were Florida, Illinois, Alabama, New York, Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Hawaii Leads All States in Three Elements

Hawaii topped all states in three elements in 2018, leading the U.S. in career, social and financial wellbeing. Hawaii is also the only state to be among the top-ranked states in all five elements. Delaware and Vermont followed Hawaii in social wellbeing, while Utah and Wyoming rounded out the top three in career wellbeing. Alaska and North Dakota were other top states for financial wellbeing.

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, all from the Mountain West, were the top three states in community wellbeing. Colorado, a perennial top state in physical wellbeing, was edged out only by Alaska and was followed by Wyoming.

Heat maps. Maps detailing the highest- and lowest-scoring states for each of the five aspects of wellbeing.

Implications

The major headwinds in wellbeing nationally that were present in 2017 were less prevalent in 2018, as the U.S. decline compared with the year before was much milder. The associated net change among states in 2018 reflected this, resulting in a more balanced year-over-year change. Still, the national decline in wellbeing since 2016's high point has widened, revealing a substantial two-year drop.

Improving and sustaining high wellbeing is vital to any population's overall health and to its economy. Prior research has shown that high wellbeing closely relates to key health outcomes such as lower rates of healthcare utilization, workplace absenteeism and workplace performance, reduction in obesity status, and the new occurrence of chronic diseases. Wellbeing is also a predictor of numerous business outcomes such as employee engagement, customer engagement, turnover and workplace safety, which can affect a state's ability to reach its economic potential. Recent research has also shown a strong link globally between wellbeing and migration intent.

The crucial importance of holistic wellbeing, too, is underscored by the 2018 results. Research has shown that having high wellbeing across most or all elements results in a variety of better outcomes than for physical wellbeing alone. Hawaii's reascent to its No. 1 ranking aptly reflects this, as Hawaii is the only state to rank in the top five across all five essential elements of wellbeing, demonstrating the usefulness of focusing on all of its aspects.

Regardless of national trends, states' efforts to improve wellbeing should be customized to meet the unique needs of local constituencies. By focusing on all five elements of wellbeing, states can maximize the return on their investment when designing and implementing initiatives to improve wellbeing.

Specific interventions include working with schools, employers, grocery stores and restaurants to foster healthier practices. Other initiatives can involve working with government and various agencies to enact changes that increase opportunities for healthier lifestyles and community life, like more walkable and bike-friendly environments, farmers markets and social activities.

Regardless of specific programs or actions, potentially the most important aspect to a successful program is strong, uniform, sustained and visible support from governmental and organizational leadership, which can play a pivotal role in providing the foundation upon which a culture of wellbeing can be built.

Learn more about how the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index works.

2018 State Well-Being Index and Element Ranks
2018 sample size Well-Being Index Career Social Financial Community Physical
Alabama 1,656 44 18 37 45 17 48
Alaska 212 3 5 8 2 23 1
Arizona 2,347 15 8 11 26 15 17
Arkansas 1,129 49 49 50 50 38 46
California 10,542 14 22 10 27 39 9
Colorado 2,316 6 11 6 10 11 2
Connecticut 1,415 16 38 16 21 41 5
Delaware 386 8 26 2 4 22 10
Florida 6,928 20 13 5 36 21 16
Georgia 2,994 23 17 15 40 28 21
Hawaii 502 1 1 1 1 4 4
Idaho 762 22 23 38 33 3 32
Illinois 4,618 42 43 43 35 46 29
Indiana 2,667 41 31 41 30 33 44
Iowa 1,612 26 25 39 15 10 36
Kansas 1,336 35 28 46 29 27 37
Kentucky 1,672 48 47 47 42 32 49
Louisiana 1,345 43 20 12 47 48 42
Maine 656 21 21 23 22 12 25
Maryland 2,185 32 32 14 18 47 24
Massachusetts 2,658 17 35 7 19 18 13
Michigan 4,369 33 34 33 25 31 30
Minnesota 2,872 12 12 32 8 8 20
Mississippi 922 47 27 48 49 45 47
Missouri 2,739 40 29 35 34 35 40
Montana 488 4 4 19 17 2 7
Nebraska 1,007 18 10 30 20 16 26
Nevada 854 19 16 17 11 37 31
New Hampshire 606 11 45 13 5 13 8
New Jersey 2,837 31 41 9 28 40 19
New Mexico 786 30 9 24 38 49 18
New York 6,038 37 46 29 41 43 22
North Carolina 3,676 36 33 27 39 20 38
North Dakota 340 10 7 31 3 7 33
Ohio 5,187 38 36 36 31 36 39
Oklahoma 1,386 45 37 42 46 44 43
Oregon 1,833 28 48 25 32 19 15
Pennsylvania 5,617 34 42 26 24 34 35
Rhode Island 442 25 40 44 16 42 12
South Carolina 1,896 39 19 34 37 25 41
South Dakota 402 9 6 21 12 6 27
Tennessee 2,454 46 44 45 44 30 45
Texas 7,121 29 15 22 43 26 34
Utah 1,214 5 2 4 13 9 14
Vermont 283 7 14 3 9 5 6
Virginia 3,181 27 30 28 23 29 23
Washington 3,043 13 24 20 7 24 11
West Virginia 669 50 50 49 48 50 50
Wisconsin 3,247 24 39 40 14 14 28
Wyoming 219 2 3 18 6 1 3
Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index

Gallup

Subscribe to receive weekly Gallup News alerts.
Never miss our latest insights.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/247034/hawaii-tops-wellbeing-record-7th-time.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030