One of the most talked about aspects each year in our America's Top States for Business study is our Quality of Life category, which in 2014 ranked Hawaii at the top and Tennessee at the bottom. Now, an international organization is taking the conversation a step further with a new study comparing well-being in U.S. states with other regions around the world.
Conditions in Hawaii, the study says, are comparable to those in Greater London (clearly, weather is not one of the metrics), while life in Tennessee shares many characteristics with life in the former Soviet republic of Estonia.
"Our day-to-day experience of life is essentially local," says the report released Monday by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which represents 34 industrialized nations including the United States. "Whether people can find a job, a good school for their children or adequate healthcare depends on where they live."
Concerned that the national data the organization tracks—such as gross domestic product—fails to account for regional differences, researchers compared 362 regions across the OECD's member nations. The study divides the U.S. into all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
While the study steers clear of ranking the states and regions for overall well-being, it scores them on a ten-point scale in each of nine categories: access to services, civic engagement, education, jobs, environment, income, health, safety and housing.
Tennessee's score of 2.8 in the health category is similar to Estonia's 2.2, and the state's 6.4 on jobs tracks the eastern European nation's 6.2. Hawaii and London turned in similar scores in health (8.8 for Hawaii and 8.4 for London), safety (8.0 versus 8.5) and housing (5.2 to 4.8).