Arkansas ranks toward the bottom of national "well-being" index - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Arkansas ranks toward the bottom of national "well-being" index

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(KATV) - Arkansas receives another poor ranking, this time regarding the state's well being.  The 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index ranked Arkansas in the bottom ten when it comes to well-being – ranking it sixth worst in the country.

The ranking also places border states in the bottom ten as well – states like Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi & Louisiana all received poor rankings.  A big reason all four states, in addition to Arkansas, rank at the bottom is because of the location of our states and a history of an agriculture-based state.

"A lot of the variables that social scientists would use to measure well being, generally in the south like particularly Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, generally tend to score relatively low on those areas when it comes to well-being," said Dr. Terry Richard, sociology professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

On a scale of zero to 100, Arkansas received a 64.3 on the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index.  The highest, being North Dakota, received a 70.4 and the lowest being West Virginia received a 61.4.

Richard said Arkansas's low score may be credited to less access to healthcare in rural areas, less access to recreation, a weak state infrastructure.  It also has to do with habit like smoking and unhealthy eating – both things that tend to make Arkansas rank low on health scores.

The survey asked about six sub-indexes that factored into a well-being score; emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, basic access to everyday things and life evaluation on a whole. 

The well being index placed a big emphasis on work environment – which plays a big role in the other ones.  It's a reason a small state like North Dakota, a state going through an oil boom, ranks so high.

"The by-product of that is that there are ample jobs available," commented Richard on North Dakota's work environment score of a 60.7 compared to the bottom with Mississippi at 41.0. 

"There's a very restricted number of individuals that are capable of applying for those jobs, so they actually have a job surplus."

But it's education that Arkansas continually ranks poorly in – even though not directly asked about in the survey – it's one that effects the others and is something Arkansas needs to turn around to boost job growth and overall well being.

"That's one of the key variables that can be used to really attract industries in because industries are no longer agricultural industries that require low skilled or semi-skilled individuals," said Richard.

Interestingly enough, less than ten points on the well-being index separate the best state from the worst.  On a global level, the United States on a whole doesn't rank very well in "well-being" compared with other countries.