WASHINGTON, D.C. — Highest poverty rate; dead last in health care; highest infant mortality rate — just a few of the data points in a recent study which ranks Mississippi as the worst state in the U.S. in which to raise a family.
The study, compiled by Washington, D.C.-based financial site WalletHub, examined the 50 states across several categories, including health & safety, education, affordability and socioeconomics, with multiple metrics compiled within each category. Mississippi did not score particularly well in any of them.
Noting that the ideal location for families is “one that’s affordability to live in during this time of high inflation, but also offers quality schools, healthcare and entertainment,” the report examined 51 key indicators of family-friendliness in determining the rankings, which were examined by a panel of six experts assembled by WalletHub.
Under the category Family Fun, Mississippi ranked 49th after the panel examined data points including number of attractions, fitness & recreation centers per capita, and share of children ages 0-17 who live in neighborhoods with parks and playgrounds. Mississippi ranked 49th.
Health & Safety rankings included data on pediatricians per capita; children’s hospitals; quality of public hospitals; infant mortaility rate; life expectancy; natural disasters; school safety; violent crime; and water and air quality. Mississippi ranked dead last.
The state fared a bit better for Education & Child Care, ranking 34th. Data in this category included quality of public schools; graduation rate; child care services per capita; day care quality; child care costs; percentage of children who participate in extracurricular activities and parental leave policies. Helping Mississippi’s ranking in this category was it’s second-lowest child care costs.
People often point to a low cost of living as one of Mississippi’s better qualities, but when the panel examined data for Affordability, Mississippi ranked 42nd. The data set included housing affordability; median family income; median mortgage and non-mortgage debt; families who can’t pay medical bills; and retirement access & participation.
The final of the five key categories examined was Socioeconomics, which examined data including separation & divorce rate; percentage of two-parent families; percentage of families living in poverty; percentage of families receiving food stamps; unemployment rate; job security; and foreclosure rate.
Again, Mississippi ranked 50th, unsurprising given Mississippi has the nation’s highest poverty rate at 15% and the fifth-highest separation & divorce rate.
Northern and northeastern states dominated the rankings, with Massachusetts ranked as the best state for families, followed by Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New Jersey as state’s all scoring 58 or above in the overall scores (Mississippi’s score was 30.01). Florida was the top scoring southeastern state, with a score of 47.28 and a ranking of 32nd. Tennessee was right behind in 33rd.
The full WalletHub report can be read at www.WalletHub.com.
The data examined for the report was taken from an array of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Child Care Aware of America, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council for Community and Economic Research, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Partnership for Women & Families, TransUnion, The Pew Charitable Trusts, United Health Foundation, Indeed, U.S. News & World Report, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, National Climatic Data Center, FINRA Investor Education Foundation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kaiser Family Foundation, ATTOM Data Solutions, Brandwatch, Zendrive and TripAdvisor.
The panel of experts included Dr. Megan McClelland, Director of the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children & Families at Oregon State University; Lauren Jones, Associate Professor of Human Sciences and John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University; Alicia D. Bonaparte, Professor of Sociology and Medical Sociologist at Pitzer College; Dr. Melissa A. Barnett, Associate Professor of Family Studies and Human Development; Director, Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families; Norton Endowed Chair in Fathers, Parenting and Families, Norton School of Human Ecology, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at the University of Arizona; Dr. Tovah P. Klein, Director, Barnard College Center for Toddler Development; and Dr. Tom Sutton, Director of Community Research Institute; President, BW Faculty Senate; Professor, Political Science, Department of Politics & Global Citizenship at Baldwin Wallace University.