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What’s the happiest state? Hint: It’s one of the Dakotas

People in North Dakota report a stronger sense of well-being than residents of Hawaii. A person living in Maryland reports a higher sense of well-being than someone in nearby Virginia. And people in Texas far outstrip their neighbors in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

That’s according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, at least, an annual list that seeks to quantify well-being across the United States. The index was created using more than 178,000 telephone interviews with American adults last year, asking them about their perceptions of things, such as healthy behaviors, work environment and access to basic necessities.

It’s interesting to see how much has changed from 2012 to 2013. The Dakotas were the clear winners, with both North (from No. 19 to No. 1) and South (No. 12 to No. 2) posting big jumps. Poor Hawaii, the top state for the last four years, fell to No. 8 this time around. And there was no change at the bottom, with West Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi taking the last three spots again. The overall well-being in the country fell to 66.2, declining from the 66.7 score measured in 2012 and matching the lowest total in the six-year history of the index (from 2011).

A full report is due in April. For now, here are the full rankings from 2013 along with how states were ranked in 2012:

(Courtesy of Gallup and Healthways)

In related news, here are 25 maps and charts that explain the U.S.

[via Time]

Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.

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