Which State Is Ranked #1 In The Nation By Residents For Well-Being?

Ed Burghard

If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you DO NOT want.

Kevin Ngo (From the Book, “Let’s Do This!”

By Edward Burghard


The power of the American Dream Composite Index research is found in understanding the 5 sub-indexes and 35 dimensions that comprise the ADCI.

The American Dream Well-Being sub-index measures the extent of resident contentment, health and prosperity in life.  It is developed from the following dimensions:

  • Family Support
  • Support of Friends
  • Support of Someone Special
  • Happiness
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Fruits of My Labor
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit
  • Leisure Activities
  • Social Status
  • Personal Health
  • Satisfaction with Residence
  • Optimism

This is the sub-index that would likely be impacted most directly by the quality of a resident’s non-work life.  For employers, employee dissatisfaction with and/or lack of engagement in their community outside of work contributes to turn-over.  That is why the traditional “Best Places to Live” surveys are paid attention to by HR Directors.  The impact of well-being has been scientifically studied and described as “job embeddedness”.  It is described in the literature as “community dimensions of fit”.  Lack of “fit” contributes to higher voluntary turn-over among employees.  Locations with a higher well-being score may offer employers a competitive advantage in employee retention.

What Do The Data Tell You?

The ADCI data reflect the sentiment of residents.  If you think about it, these are the people in the best position to assess how easy it is to achieve their American Dream, and as  consequence their perspective is worth paying attention to.  Resident sentiment is measured through a validated questionnaire.  To produce the Report, the data collected from residents in each state throughout calendar 2013 have been compiled to create a 12-month snap shot.  The intent of the Report is to help economic development professionals and elected officials better understand where the state might have opportunities to better enable residents to achieve their American Dream.  This can be done by comparing one state’s dimension scores with other states that might be seen as competitive for capital investment or attraction of top talent.  It is important to note the data inform HOW residents are feeling, but do not explain the sentiment drivers behind WHY they feel that way.  Answering the WHY question requires additional local market research.

How Were The Sub-Indexes Determined?

In general, the Xavier University team did an exhaustive literature review along with both qualitative and quantitative market research to identify an initial list of dimensions that make up the American Dream.  Questions or statements were generated to measure each dimension.  Then two separate large-scale quantitative studies were used to statistically validate and refine the questionnaire.  Finally, three nationally representative samples were used to validate the ADCI, and factor analysis was used to verify that each dimension was sound.  The result of all this work was 35 dimensions that are grouped into five statistically sound and validated sub-indexes.

more complete description of the process is available on the Xavier University website.

What Is Your State’s Ranking?

Montana is Ranked as the #1 State in the Nation for Well-Being Conditions That Enable Residents to Achieve Their American Dream.

American Dream Cover Small

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Note:  The goal of the rankings is to educate readers about the American Dream and stimulate a conversation around how residents can be better enabled to achieve more of their American Dream.  For purposes of State Rankings, the ADCI data is considered secondary data.  The ADCI research hypothesis is to value the American Dream as a nation (all 50 states and DC together).  Respondents self-identify their states (this is verified with PII data) every month, but this information is only used as a balancing item for state population strata based on the most recent census.  The State Ranking is non-scientific and done as an illustrative piece by the Burghard Group for the purpose of educating leaders on the quality of life around the country.  It is impossible to accurately measure the error rate given that neither a uniform nor standard rate is gathered from each state every month.  Data is compiled for the year for each state and then evaluated.  Readers of the Report are encouraged to check their state’s ADCI scores against relative Region scores and the national scores for a well balanced perspective on overall performance. 

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