Because of its low poverty rate and success in keeping teenagers in school, Minnesota is the best place to be a kid, a national report has found.
In its annual survey of the well-being of children in the 50 states, the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Minnesota number one, displacing last year's winner, New Hampshire. New Hampshire, which has ranked in the top ten every year since 1990, slipped to second place.
The Casey Foundation's series of reports, called Kids Count, compares all 50 states on such measures as infant deaths, teen births, drop-outs rates and child poverty. For Kids Count 2000, researchers relied primarily on data for 1997, the last year for which statistics are available for all categories. This year's report also looks specifically at the access of poor families to services most people take for granted, like telephones, cars and social networks.
Although the country as a whole has not recovered fully from a spike in child poverty in the early 1990s, the report finds that in other respects life for children has improved since Kids Count began 11 years ago. The death rate for all stages of childhood, from infancy to adolescence, is down, meaning American babies today are more likely to survive into adulthood.
Minnesota and New Hampshire, however, surpass the other 50 states in a number of areas, the report finds. Minnesota's roaring economy has clearly benefited its children; they are more likely to have working parents than children elsewhere. The state has also done better than most at deterring teenagers from dropping out of high school. And while child poverty has worsened nationally, it has fallen dramatically in Minnesota.
New Hampshire children are the least likely to live in poverty, the report finds. The Granite State has also seen impressive declines since 1990 in its death rates for infants and for teenagers.
Kids Count ranks Louisiana and Mississippi 49th and 50th, respectively.