By Kavita Varma-White
Sure, New Jersey has lately had its share of headache-inducing cultural ambassadors, from Snooki to the Situation.
But it turns out that if you want a great place to raise kids, the Garden State ranks tops.
So says the Foundation for Child Development, which put out its annual Child Well Being Index (CWI), a state-by-state comparison of quality of life for kids.
The index uses 28 indicators across seven categories — family economic well-being, health, safe/risky behavior, education attainment, community engagement, social relationships and emotional/spiritual well-being — to calculate overall child well-being.
Ranking No. 1 over all, New Jersey was in the top 10 in five categories and was No. 1 for social relationships. (Insert Real Housewives joke here.)
Massachusetts came in second place overall, and was in the top 10 in five categories, and first for both education attainment and community engagement.
New Hampshire, Utah, and Connecticut rounded out the top five. New Hampshire was in the top 10 in six domains, yet it ranked 45th in the emotional/spiritual well-being category. Utah was No. 1 for safe/risky behavior, while Connecticut was No. 2 in the family economic well-being domain.
The rest of the top 10: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Maryland and New York.
For the most part, the report shows that states in the Northeast and upper Midwest perform well in most categories, while states in the South and the Southwest generally do poorer.
Getting the dubious honor of being in the bottom 10: Tennessee, Kentucky, Alaska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizon, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi. And New Mexico ranked the absolute lowest.
And what about the west coast? Washington ranked 22nd while California and Oregon came in at 30 and 31, respectively.
Researchers found a link between high tax rates and public investments in kids (like education and Medicaid) and higher child well-being scores.