The 10 happiest states in America

Income and emotional well-being — two things that insurance is designed to protect — both play a role in determining your clients’ happiness.

Can money buy happiness? A comprehensive study from the National Academy of Sciences set out to answer this age-old question, and found that indeed it can — but only up to a point. Life satisfaction and emotional well-being, two prime indicators of happiness, rise alongside income, but only up to $75,000. Beyond that, more money does not mean greater happiness.

So, which factors do contribute? A new report from WalletHub cites 26 key metrics, ranging from job security to safety to sports participation rates. Several of these smaller data sets have relevance for the insurance industry. For health insurance agents, the lowest percentage of people who are overweight or obese can be found in the District of Columbia; the highest percentage can be found in Louisiana. For financial planners, the highest income growth took place in North Dakota; the lowest in Nevada. And for benefits specialists, unemployment rates vary dramatically between North Dakota, the state with the lowest long-term unemployment rate (thanks, fracking industry), and, once again, Nevada, the state with the highest unemployment.

In short, these 26 factors add up to a list that is often surprising. Just one coastal state featured in the top 10, for example, suggesting (as other studies have done) that the largest metropolitan areas may be losing some of their appeal. Wyoming, the big state with the tiny population, made the list. Overall, middle and Western states fared much better than their Eastern and Southern counterparts, with the South drawing the lowest regional rankings. Continue reading for the full list.

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No. 10: Idaho

Emotional & physical well-being rank: 15
Work rank: 14
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 7

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No. 9: South Dakota

Emotional & physical well-being rank: 12
Work rank: 10
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 12

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No. 8: Hawaii

Emotional & physical well-being rank: 4
Work rank: 32
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 1

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No. 7: Iowa


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 14
Work rank: 2
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 8

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No. 6: Wyoming


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 11
Work rank: 5
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 5

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No. 5: Nebraska


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 13
Work rank: 4
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 6

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No. 4: Colorado


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 2
Work rank: 9
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 10

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No. 3: North Dakota


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 10
Work rank: 6
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 3

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No. 2: Minnesota


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 1
Work rank: 3
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 2

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No. 1: Utah


Emotional & physical well-being rank: 3
Work rank: 1
Community, environment & recreational activities rank: 2

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