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The Overall State of Well-Being: Who's Thriving and Who's Not

Written By: Brenda (B.K.) Walker

The Overall State of Well-Being: Who's Thriving and Who's Not
Written By: Brenda (B.K.) Walker

If we listen to the politicians and news media, or believe what we read in the newspapers, magazines, and online sources, Americans should be thriving! Unemployment's down, job growth's up, the stock market is rebounding—all is well in America. But there's another entity we need to be listening to—the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, for it tells us who's thriving, who's not thriving, as well as what areas Americans are thriving in and what areas they are not thriving.

Gallup and Healthways began collaborative efforts to formulate the annual Well-Being report, in 2008.

"'Well-being' is a concept that captures the important aspects of how people feel about and experience their daily lives—in other words, well-being encompasses more than physical health or economic indicators."

From the CEOs:

"For an individual, high well-being means a life well-lived—all the things that are important to each of us, what we think about, and how we experience our lives. In the aggregate, high well-being means healthier population, more productive and profitable business, and more economically vibrant communities."

The following information is taken from the "State of American Well-Being: 2013 State, Community, and Congressional District Analysis" reported by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, retrieved at

Back in the USA News Story: The Overall State of Well-Being: Who's Thriving and Who's Not.

The National Well-Being Index

The National Well-being Index is comprised of six specific domains:

  • Life Evaluation
  • Emotional Health
  • Work Environment
  • Physical Health
  • Healthy Behaviors
  • Basic Access

Since 2008, the composite score, created by combing the six domains, has remained somewhat stable.

2012-2013 year-over-year declines contributing factors:

  • Life Evaluation
  • Physical Health
  • Healthy Behaviors


2012-2013 Unchanged factors:

  • Work Environment
  • Emotional Health
  • Basic Access


Back in the USA News Story: The Overall State of Well-Being: Who's Thriving and Who's Not.









Life Evaluation













Emotional Health













Work Environment













Physical Health













Healthy Behavior













Basic Access













Occupational Trends:

  • Highest well-being
    • Professionals
    • Managers
    • Business Owners


  • Lowest well-being
    • Manufacturing and installation
    • Transportation
    • Repair Workers


Back in the USA News Story: The Overall State of Well-Being: Who's Thriving and Who's Not.


Top 10 Well-Being States

There are a number of shared characteristics found in the high well-being areas including lower rates of chronic disease, lower cases of obesity, exercised more consistently, lower smoking statistics, and higher positive view of their communities.

  • Top States
    • North Dakota
    • South Dakota
    • Nebraska
    • Minnesota
    • Montana
    • Vermont
    • Colorado
    • Hawaii
    • Washington
    • Iowa

Factors That Affected the Decline in Well-Being

There are so many factors that play an important role in the overall State of American Well-Being. Reports by media and political agencies consistently reflect positively in how America is recovering from the "recession." Yet, since 2008, there have been specific areas that have affected the decline in the national score.

Six-year overview of well-being measurements:

  • Life Evaluation-improved
  • Emotional Health-stable
  • Healthy Behaviors-stable
  • Basic access-declined
  • Physical health-declined
  • Work Environment-declined

Primary reasons for decline:

  • Health Insurance remains a critical component for basic access. Since 2008, there has been a decrease in the average rate of individuals reporting to have health insurance. The decline can be attributed to the increase in unemployment between 2008 and 2010. Even as statistics indicate that the unemployment rate is decreasing, and the Affordable Care Act reports that more people are registering for health insurance through the Market Place, there remains a large gap between the increases in the number of people with health insurance vs the decrease in the unemployment rate.
  • Obesity is on the rise, with 2013 marking the lowest rate in physical health since 2008. Although obesity had appeared to be on the decline, it has ramped up at an alarming rate during 2013.
  • Work environment scores declining, 2009 marked the lowest rating in work environment and has yet to recover to pre-recession scores. This evidences the continuing strained relationship between management and labor forces, due to a weak labor market.

When all is said and done, it doesn't matter whether the government's statistics are accurate—unemployment's down—job growth's up—the government has its own style of math. What is important is how Americans—the voters—are faring—beyond the physicality of "well-being." A healthy America is happy in life, emotionally stable, happy at work, and is physically healthy, exhibiting healthy behaviors because there is adequate access to basic health services. A productive nation requires productive citizens.


Other Articles of Interest:

A Quick Look at the New Spending Bill

Inflation, Deflation, and a Depression...Really?

Just Another Health Insurance Fiasco

The American Dream: This Isn't Your Parent's America

The American Dilemma: Pay Rent or Buy Food


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