September 9, 2010
Americans’ Wellbeing Declines for Third Consecutive Month
Lower scores in six key wellbeing areas contribute to decrease
by Elizabeth Mendes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Well-Being Index score for the nation dropped slightly to 66.9 in August, declining for the third consecutive month after reaching a high of 67.4 in May.

Americans’ wellbeing score fell to a low of 63.3 in December 2008 amid a sinking economy and rising unemployment but recovered in the first half of 2009 and has remained higher in 2010. Gallup and Healthways began tracking wellbeing in the United States in January 2008. The Well-Being Index is composed of six sub-indexes that together measure Americans’ physical, emotional, and fiscal wellbeing.

Lower scores across all six sub-indexes contribute to the lower August Well-Being Index score. The Life Evaluation Index score, one key measure of wellbeing, fell slightly again in August as it did in July, with fewer Americans rating their lives positively. The measure previously rose to a high of 50.8 in June.

The Healthy Behavior Index score, which typically remains high throughout the spring and summer months due to seasonal factors, declined slightly and unexpectedly in August, as a result of fewer Americans reporting exercising frequently. American workers’ perceptions of their work environment also decreased last month, falling to an all-time low of 47.7. Despite the downward slides in August, each of the sub-indexes, excluding the Work Environment and Basic Access indexes, is now higher than or on par with where it was during the same month in 2009 and 2008. Americans’ access to basic necessities and attitudes toward their places of work are the only areas of wellbeing yet to recover to levels found prior to the economic crisis.

Learn more about the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

To view and export trend data and for more information on each of the six Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index sub-indexes, please see the following charts: Well-Being Index, Life Evaluation Index, Emotional Health Index, Physical Health Index, Healthy Behavior Index, Work Environment Index, and Basic Access Index.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 31,261 adults in the United States, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 1-31, 2010, as a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

The Life Evaluation Index is based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, which asks respondents to evaluate their present and future lives on a scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, where “0” is the worst possible life and “10” is the best possible life. Those who rate today a “7” or higher and the future an “8” or higher are considered to be “thriving.” Those who rate today and the future a “4” or lower on the scale are considered to be “suffering.” The overall Life Evaluation Index score is calculated as the percentage of thriving Americans minus the percentage of suffering Americans.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measures the daily pulse of U.S. wellbeing and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit