The 10 Best States To Raise A Child

Happy Kid

The Foundation for Child Development has released its annual Child Well Being Index (CWI), a state-by-state comparison of children’s quality of life.

The index uses 28 indicators across seven categories to calculate overall child well-being. These include:

  • Family Economic Well-Being
  • Health
  • Safe/Risky behaviour
  • Education Attainment
  • Community Engagement
  • Social Relationships
  • and Emotional/Spiritual Well-Being

The report shows that states in the Northeast and upper Midwest perform well, while states in the South and Southwest generally do poorly. 

It also found a strong correlation between high tax rates and public investments in children (like education and Medicaid) and higher child well-being scores. 

10. New York

CWI value: .46

New York ranked #3 in Safe/Risky behaviour, which measures teen birth rate, cigarette use, binge drinking, and illicit drug use. The state ranked in the top 25 in all other domains.

9. Maryland

CWI value: .53

Maryland ranked #3 in Family Economic Well-Being, which measures children without health insurance coverage, family income, and parent employment. The state fared worst in Health Well-Being, which includes mortality rate, overweight and obese children, and children with functional limitations.

8. North Dakota

CWI value: .56

North Dakota ranked #1 in Community Engagement, which measures young adults who have received a H.S. Diploma or B.A degree as well as the per cent of children not in school, and the number of teenagers not in school and not working. The state ranked #41 in Emotional/Spiritual Well-Being, which looks at suicide rates and children without weekly religious attendance.

7. Iowa

CWI value: .59

Iowa ranked #5 in Health Well-Being and Community Engagement, but was #26 in Emotional/Spiritual Well-Being.

6. Minnesota

CWI value: .73

Minnesota ranked in the top 10 in five of the domains and was #1 in Health Well-Being.

5. Connecticut

CWI value: .74

Connecticut ranked in the top 10 in four domains, and was #2 in Family Economic-Well Being and Community Engagement and Social Relationships, which measures children in single parent families and children who have moved within the last year. The state was #14 in Safe/Risky behaviour.

4. Utah

CWI value: .75

Utah is ranked #1 in Safe/Risky behaviour. The state ranks in the top 10 in five other domains, with the exception of Education Attainment, where it ranks #28. It is also one of the few states Northeast or Midwest to rank in the top 10.

3. New Hampshire

CWI value: .77

New Hampshire is in the top 10 in six domains, with the exception of the Emotional/Spiritual domain where it ranks 45th. According to the report, the Emotional/Spiritual domain 'is one of the few indicators where 'children in low-income families score higher than children in middle- and upper-income families.'

2. Massachusetts

CWI value: .84

Massachusetts is in the top 10 in five domains. It is #1 in Education Attainment and Community Engagement.

1. New Jersey

CWI value: .85

New Jersey is in the top 10 in five domains and is #1 in Social Relationships.

And the state with lowest CWI value of -0.96: New Mexico

New Mexico ranks the lowest on the CWI index, followed by Mississippi and Louisiana. The state appears in the bottom 10 in five different categories, along with Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

See how these states compare...

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