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Getting through: The happiest states in the U.S. revealed

Where are the happiest states in the U.S.? Does such a question mean more in the COVID-19 era?

A butcher happily slicing meat. Image by By Lfpelser (CC BY-SA 4.0)
A butcher happily slicing meat. Image by By Lfpelser (CC BY-SA 4.0)

It has been estimated that 4 out of every 10 adults have suffered from symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder at some statue during the COVID-19 pandemic. While mental health is a complex issue, being in an environment that can be classed as ‘happy’ can assist with recovery and to help to reduce symptoms of anxiety.

There are different ways to define and measure ‘happiness’. According to Wendy Johnny, who is an Assistant Professor at City University of New York: “The most fundamental elements to a happy life comprised of a combination of factors. It begins with being mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially healthy. It also requires having healthy relationships with individuals in your personal and social circles and be contented with the choices you have made in your life journey.”

Measuring happiness has been attempted by the personal-finance website WalletHub, which has generated a report titled “2021’s Happiest States in America”.

With a focus on the U.S., the survey seeks to identify which states have populations the highest satisfaction with life. To reach this assessment, 31 key indicators of happiness were used.

Among the data sets used were rates of depression, and linking this with positive COVID-19 test results to important economic factors like income growth and the unemployment rate.

From this, the top ten happiest states in the U.S. were found to be

1. Utah

2. Minnesota  

3. Hawaii        

4. California   

5. North Dakota         

6. South Dakota         

7. Idaho          

8. Maryland    

9. New Jersey 

10. Massachusetts      

Beyond the rankings, there are variances based around different factors. For example, New Jersey was found to have the lowest share of adult depression at around 12 percent. This stands at about three times lower than in West Virginia, which has the highest recorded rate of depression, at just over 30 percent.

Taking another measure, suicide rates. Both New York and New Jersey have the fewest suicides (per 100,000 residents) at 8. This is close to which is four times lower than Wyoming, which has 29 cases per 100,000 people.

North Dakota has the lowest long-term unemployment rate. This stands at 13 percent. In contrast, New Mexico has the highest rate of unemployment, at a staggeringly high 45 percent.

Considering a final measure – divorce – Utah has the lowest separation and divorce rate, standing at 16 percent; whereas Nevada comes top with 26 percent.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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