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Manhattan Beach's Well-Being Index is Highest Ever

Feb 20, 2024 09:47PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Beach Cities Health District's Free Yoga on the Beach class in Manhattan Beach in July. Photo via BCHD.

How are you doing, Manhattan Beach? Pretty well, it seems. According to the latest Well-Being Index poll conducted by Gallup and presented to Beach Cities Health District, Manhattan Beach's community well-being score was the highest recorded in the country.

In fact, Manhattan Beach's latest score of 70.6 is the highest community measurement ever recorded by Gallup out of more than 1,500 community scores since WBI measurement began in 2008. Manhattan Beach also held the previous record with a score of 70.4 in 2020.

The WBI surveys adults nationwide on five elements of well-being: career, community, financial, physical and social. These five anchors contribute to the overall WBI score; a high score means a life well-lived.

In addition to outpacing national scores, Manhattan Beach also led the beach cities (Manhattan Hermosa, and Redondo) in each of the five elements of well-being, with Redondo Beach scoring 66.5 overall and Hermosa Beach scoring 69.3 overall.

Collectively, the beach cities’ score of 68.0 substantially outpaced the national score of 58.2.


Daily Stress Is Area for Improvement

Gallup, on behalf of Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), has administered the WBI since 2010, the year that the Blue Zones Project® came to the beach cities. The 2023 WBI data was collected last fall and is weighted and adjusted based on demographic statistics and sample size.

According to the data, the beach cities excel overall in well-being and score statistically better than the nation in each of the WBI’s five elements. The elements with the largest gaps between the beach cities and the nation were financial well-being (with a score of 78.1 for Manhattan Beach, 73.2 for the beach cities, and 59.8 for the country), and community well-being (with a score of 73.0 for Manhattan Beach, 71.0 for the beach cities, and 59.5 for the country). 

In the beach cities, 73.4% of residents agreed that they are proud of their community compared to 44.2% of adults nationally, nearly a 30-point gap in sense of community and pride. Furthermore, 63% of the beach cities' residents reported having excellent or very good health compared to 33% nationally this year.

Additionally, from 2015 to 2023, the beach cities' overall WBI score increased by 3.1 points, with financial well-being increasing 4.0 points and community well-being rising by 3.7 points.

Since 2010, there has been a 50% decrease in smoking, a 25% decrease in above-normal weight, a 29% increase in exercise, and an 11% increase in thriving, a holistic look at life evaluation. These statistically significant increases are especially impressive as well-being in the nation has decreased in many of these domains over the same period.

Dan Witters, research director of the Well-Being Index, who has managed the WBI since 2009, noted the impressive trends that the beach cities have seen over time and compared to the nation, but called out daily stress as an area for improvement. 

“While there has been an 11% decrease in daily stress from 2010 to 2023, the beach cities still have a higher level of stress compared to the nation," said Witters in a statement. "We tend to see ‘productive stress’ in more affluent areas with a high level of professionals working. Stress goes down as incomes go up, but you see a U-turn effect with stress going back up when a household income reaches $180,000 and goes up even more at $240,000."

Along with stress, substance use and mental health continue to be other areas of focus, as alcohol consumption is 68% higher in the beach cities than in the United States.

“Data from the WBI gives us insights into the well-being of the beach cities community and informs our program and decision-making process. BCHD’s programming will continue to focus on social connection and developing empathy, kindness and gratitude through our work around mental health and happiness, while also providing opportunities for connection through our community events, services and spaces,” said Tom Bakaly, CEO of Beach Cities Health District, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to see data showing our community living well, but know there’s still work to be done.”

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