Study: Despite Bourbon, Kentucky One of Unhappiest States


March 16, 2023

Unhappy Kentucky face

A new study that included factors from unemployment rates to sleep deprivation indicates that Kentucky is one of the least happy states in the U.S.

The study looked at a number of factors to develop a Happiness Index Score; Mississippi ranked as the most unhappy state, while Kentucky ranked as the No. 8 unhappiest – this, in spite of Kentucky being the epicenter of bourbon production and culture.

The study, conducted by Joy Organics, also included suicide rates, average hourly wage, the severity of depression and anxiety, number of primary care and mental health providers, adverse childhood experiences and neighborhood amenities.

Other states in the Top 10 unhappiest states are West Virginia (2), Alabama (3), Arizona (4), Arkansas (5), Nevada (6), South Carolina (7), Louisiana (9) and Oklahoma (10).

Mississippi’s unhappiness score was 58.6 out of 100, while Kentucky’s score was 62.5. Driving Mississippi’s low score were the lowest marks in both the anxiety and depression indexes, at 1.96 and 1.74 respectively. Those scores came through the Household Pulse Survey and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and they reflect the frequency with which the average person in the state experiences either anxiety or depressive symptoms on a scale of 0-3, where 0 is not at all and 3 is every day.

Kentucky, meanwhile, tied with Oregon with the fifth highest depression severity score of any state at 1.57. Kentucky also showed the fourth-highest percentage of adults who reported short sleep duration with 40.5%, as well as the fifth highest percentage of people reporting adverse childhood experiences at 19.5%.

There are lots of ideas as to what constitutes happiness for different people,” Joy Organics, a developer of CBD products, said in a statement that accompanied the study. “With this research, we aimed to include a number of factors that either influence a state’s happiness or serve as indicators of it.

“Mental well-being, support and suicide rates were weighted more heavily in the ranking, accounting for a larger proportion of each state’s overall score, as these were deemed to be the most important factors. Of course, there is much more that determines happiness than these specific factors alone, but they can help to build a picture of each state’s overall well-being levels.”