Study says NH is tops in well being

It’s good, we suppose, that New Hampshire was at the top of the rankings of a study published this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that looked at the well-being of people worldwide.

The study examined nine categories, and the Granite State had the highest cumulative ranking in the country, 77.6 out of 100.

The state topped the country in two of them, income and housing, scoring a perfect 10 in each of those areas. It also ranked highly in education due to the fact that more than 90 percent of the state’s workforce has a high school diploma, and the state’s low homicide rate was reflected in the state’s high ranking in the safety category. New Hampshire also did well in jobs, health and access to services.

Using a slightly different measurement, the study formulated something called “composite ranks,” that placed New Hampshire 11th in the country, behind North Dakota at No. 1, followed by South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Iowa.

It is good to see, from time to time, how others see us, but it’s also wise to take such rankings with a measure of skepticism, because well-being is a subjective term.

There once was an area of the state that was known as the “Golden Triangle” of New Hampshire – the region between Manchester, Nashua and Salem.

The “Golden Triangle” was where good jobs fueled a housing boom and a retail explosion that led to the development of the Mall of New Hampshire, the Pheasant Lane Mall and the Mall at Rockingham Park. It was where small towns burst at the seams and populations exploded.

It’s probably no accident that you don’t hear it called that much anymore.

Sure, we’re pretty well off compared to some other states, but the people in the state have their own standards and there is much to be done as the state faces new challenges.

We still have to get a handle on a surging heroin epidemic, and deal with the problem of synthetic marijuana that resulted in 41 overdoses in a three-day period this summer.

The state is in the middle of revamping its systems for delivering services to the mentally ill, and Gov. Maggie Hassan just appointed members to a committee established to examine the state’s juvenile justice system. Then there is always the question of how the state should get the money to pay for the services it must provide to those in need.

Sure, the recent study reinforces the perception that New Hampshire is an affluent, well-educated state, but the reality – as many have long known – is that we are really two or more states: The prosperous and the needy; the north and the south; the urban and the rural; those who are highly educated and those who are not.

The real value to a study like the one done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is not just that it takes a snapshot of the state, but that it might cause those who look at it to wonder where the state should be in comparison to where it is, and to talk about how to get there.