NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State Of Social Health In The States

May 1, 2002

The map of his early research looked remarkably like the map of the last election. Eighteen of the 20 states with the worst records on social health had cast their electoral votes for George Bush. Eighteen of the 20 states with the best score on social health, most in the Northeast and Midwest, had voted for Al Gore.

Which might suggest that Bush was the choice of the have-nots.

Other facts uncovered in his research:

  • Out of a possible score of 100, Iowa was at the top with 73, New Mexico last with 21.4 (see figure
  • In New Mexico, 29.4 percent of the population has no health insurance -- while in Rhode Island the uninsured percentage is only 8.1.
  • The child abuse rate in Montana is more than 10 times that of Pennsylvania.
  • Teenage suicide is nine times more common in Alaska than in New Jersey.

Three factors were bellwethers of overall social health: child poverty, high-school completion and health insurance.

"A state does not do well without doing well in these three indicators, and a state doesn't do badly without performing poorly in these areas," Miringoff said. "This really has implications in terms of policy: if you want to get more bang for your buck, or you don't want to monitor all 16 indicators, concentrate on these things to improve life in your state."

Source: Alexander Stille, "With the Index of Leading Economic Indicators, a Social Report Card," New York Times, April 27, 2002;

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