FARGO — North Dakotans, look in the mirror. Are you smiling? There's a good chance you are, according to a new study that says you live in America's "Happiest State."
The research by sleep experts Amerisleep analyzed 17 factors that contribute toward happiness, such as health, income, work-life balance and environment, to find the happiest state in America.
North Dakota ranked the happiest out of all 50 states after performing well in a number of different factors, including the highest level of income growth over the past year, the second-best score for open spaces and beauty, and the highest number of national parks per square foot.
The other states in the Top 5 are: Vermont; Nebraska; South Dakota; and California.
The least happy state, according to the study, is Kentucky, followed by West Virginia, Tennessee, Nevada and Ohio.
Minnesota ranks as the 21st happiest state.
April Mayer from Amerisleep commented on the findings, “This data paints a fascinating picture of happiness across the US. The study analyzed a large array of factors, from sleep levels and access to healthcare to average commute time and house size. The states at the top of the list offer a great combination of the things that make people happy.”
Top 3 factors
Health ranks as U.S. citizens’ most important contributor toward happiness, according to the OECD Better Life Index, and the study included four separate factors within the category — depression rate, sleep, suicide numbers and number of hospitals per capita. North Dakota ranks the highest, while West Virginia ranks the lowest of all 50 states.
Education is the second most important element for happiness, and Vermont comes out on top with the most higher education places per capita. In second place is North Dakota, and coming in third is Montana.
Work-life balance is also highly valued by Americans, with the study revealing Nebraska as the best place to achieve it. This category factored in health clubs per capita, working hours, volunteer rates, unemployment rates, commute times and divorce rates, with Utah placing second and Montana third. Conversely, Nevada placed 50th on the list for achieving a good balance between career and home life.