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Northeast Sweeps US Well-being Study

American Human Development Project study measures health, wealth and education.

William Weir

November 11, 2010

We're number 1! In well-being, that is.

Connecticut is at the top of the list of well-being in the U.S., beating out Massachusetts and New York. So says a study from the American Human Development Project. The project is part of the New York-based Social Science Research Council.

Based on official government data, the list is decided by three factors health, education and income. It turns out the Land of Steady Habits scores well on all three. We're third in education, fourth in earnings and fifth in education. Across the board, we score at the top.

At the bottom of the list is West Virginia. Sarah Burd-Sharps, co-director of the American Human Development Project, offers an example of the gap in well-being between ranking at the top of the list and at the bottom of it: A baby born in Connecticut today has a life expectancy of 5 years more than a baby born in West Virginia.

"That's a huge difference, and it's in the same country," she says. "Connecticut has invested in people, by having conditions and giving them the circumstances to enable them to make healthy choices in life."

Connecticut's high score is in stark contrast to its ranking in a study published in the journal Science last year. In that study, Connecticut was listed as the second unhappiest state in the union; New York the most unhappy. Oddly, Louisiana was the happiest state according to the Science study; in the American Human Development Project study, it's listed at 47th in well-being.

Burd-Sharps notes that the measurement of happiness and well-being are two very different things.

"There's a huge difference in the work we're doing that what's done with the happiness index," she says. "This work we're doing has objective measures of well being. Life satisfaction, it really matters, but it sometimes yields some counterintuitive results."

Here's the full list:

1 CONNECTICUT

2 MASSACHUSETTS

3 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

4 NEW JERSEY

5 MARYLAND

6 NEW YORK

7 MINNESOTA

8 NEW HAMPSHIRE

9 HAWAII

10 COLORADO

11 RHODE ISLAND

12 CALIFORNIA

13 VIRGINIA

14 WASHINGTON

15 ILLINOIS

16 DELAWARE

17 ALASKA

18 VERMONT

19 WISCONSIN

20 PENNSYLVANIA

21 ARIZONA

22 UTAH

23 FLORIDA

24 IOWA

25 KANSAS

26 NEBRASKA

27 OREGON

28 MICHIGAN

29 NORTH DAKOTA

30 MAINE

31 OHIO

32 GEORGIA

33 SOUTH DAKOTA

34 WYOMING

35 NEVADA

36 INDIANA

37 MISSOURI

38 TEXAS

39 IDAHO

40 NORTH CAROLINA

41 NEW MEXICO

42 MONTANA

43 SOUTH CAROLINA

44 TENNESSEE

45 KENTUCKY

46 OKLAHOMA

47 ALABAMA

48 LOUISIANA

49 MISSISSIPPI

50 ARKANSAS

51 WEST VIRGINIA

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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