OECD: The states with the best—and worst—quality of life

New Hampshire tops ranking of best places to live in the U.S.

A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) finds that the residents of New Hampshire have the best quality of life in the United States.

For the report, OECD examined objective data—such as mortality rates—from 362 regions of its 34 member countries and evaluated the regions in nine areas: health, safety, housing, access to broadband, civic engagement, education, jobs, environment, and income. Each measure was ranked from one to 10 and then totaled for a maximum possible score of 90.  

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Monica Brezzi, the report's author, says the goal of the rankings is to provide policy makers with a map of where "are the major needs where policies can intervene."

According to a New York Times analysis of the data, the residents of Canberra, Australia, had the highest quality of life in the world. The top five countries in the ranking were:

    1. Australia
    2. Norway
    3. Canada
    4. Sweden
    5. United States

Meanwhile, the bottom five countries in the ranking were Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, and Mexico.

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Quality of life in the United States

OECD divided the United States into regions based on states. It found that the top five U.S. states ranked by well-being were:

    1. New Hampshire (77.6)
    2. Minnesota (76.2)
    3. Vermont (74.8)
    4. Iowa (72.9)
    5. North Dakota (72.4)

The Southern United States fared less well in the rankings, according for all the states in the bottom five:

    1. Mississippi (50.7)
    2. Arkansas (51.3)
    3. Alabama (51.3)
    4. West Virginia (52.2)
    5. Tennessee (52.9)

New Hampshire's top position was bolstered by an extremely high safety rating of 9.2—a half point higher than any other state.  The state tied Washington for first place on access to broadband, with 79% of households reporting access to high-speed internet.

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The report also ranked the health of each state's residents based on life expectancy and self-reported health status. The top five states were:

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    1. Hawaii (8.8)
    2. Minnesota (7.8)
    3. Connecticut (7.8)
    4. California (7.8)
    5. New York (7.5)

Mississippi and Alabama ranked last and second-to-last on health, respectively (Flippen, "Upshot," New York Times, 10/6; Hess/Frolich, 24/7 Wall Street, 10/6; Feingold, New Hampshire Business Review, 10/7; Ferdman,"Wonkblog," Washington Post, 10/7; Shah, Wall Street Journal, 10/6).


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