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How Well is MA Thriving—New Gallup Poll

Saturday, August 18, 2012

 

When MA residents assess their state of affairs and consider their prospects for the future, how optimistic is that picture? New numbers from Gallup have an answer. Photo: Kristymp/flickr.

How well is Massachusetts thriving? New mid-year analysis from Gallup places the state #17 in the nation and above the national average, with 54.8% of residents reporting a level of satisfaction and optimism that qualifies us as "thriving". The Bay State placed near the top of the New England states, with the #2 highest percentage of thriving citizens.

The most thriving state so far for 2012 is Hawaii, followed by Utah at #2, South Dakota at #3, Maryland at #4, and Texas at #5. New Hampshire was the only New England state to make this year's Top 10, at #6. At the bottom of the list, West Virginia reported the bleakest outlook, with 42.3% of its citizens thriving. Maine, at #49, is the only New England state in the bottom 10.

Who's thriving in New England?

New Hampshire indeed took top honors in the region, with 56.4% of its citizens reporting that they're thriving. Massachusetts is #2 with 54.8%, followed by Rhode Island with 53.2%, at #3. Going down the ladder, Connecticut placed #4 with 52.9%, Vermont placed #5 with 51.5%, and Maine was the least thriving state in the region this year, with 46.6%.

What does thriving mean?

Gallup's snapshot of the nation's levels of thriving, based on mid-year data. Image: Gallup.

Gallup uses the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, which asks respondents to imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top, they're told, represents the best possible life and the bottom is the worst. Then they're asked, "On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?" And then, "On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now?"

Thriving, which is defined as "wellbeing that is strong, consistent and progressing," is granted to those who choose 7+ for their present life situation, and 8+ for their future view. (Gallup adds that those who self-define as thriving on the Cantril Scale report "significantly fewer health problems, fewer sick days, less worry, stress, sadness, anger, and more happiness, enjoyment, interest, and respect.")

Massachusetts' residents averaged a 7.0 for their current state of affairs, and predicted an average of 7.8 for the 5-year mark. In contrast, top-ranked Hawaii's residents assessed their current lives at 7.2, and anticipated a jump to 8.2 in five years.

Trends nationwide

Nationwide so far in 2012, 53.6% of U.S. adults rated their lives positively enough to be considered thriving, rating their current lives an average of 6.9 and their lives in five years an average of 7.8, marking a slight improvement compared with 2011. According to Gallup, Mountain and West Central states tend to do well, while the East Central states tend to fare poorly, with a mixed picture along the coasts.

Gallup's research has shown that people take a variety of factors into account when rating their lives. "While this thriving measure doesn't always align perfectly with macro-level trends on economic indicators such as economic confidence and job creation, it is known to correlate with personal factors in one's own life including career, social, physical, financial, and community wellbeing," according to Gallup. States that do best overall in "thriving" are similar to those best positioned for future livability based on a variety of factors encompassing economic, workplace, community, and personal choices. "As such," according to Gallup, "it remains clear that a broad-based approach will likely fare best in terms of improving how residents rate their lives and their level of optimism for the future."

While all states find residents expecting their lives to be better in the next five years than they are now, some states find residents much more optimistic than others. Residents in Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Hawaii, on average, expect their lives to improve the most. On the other hand, residents of Wyoming, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Vermont expect the least improvement.

For the entire rankings and data on every state, go here.

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