How KIDS COUNT in Arizona, 2012
Senior Specialist, Business Information
According to 2010 Census data, 25.5 percent of Arizona’s population is comprised of those under the age of 18. This places Arizona among the youngest states in the nation, making the report summarized below all the more important.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has tracked the well-being of children in the United States by publishing the KIDS COUNT Data Book since 1990. The 2012 report was released in late July. This year the index expanded from the list of 10 indicators used in previous reports to 16 indicators divided into four main categories –Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. This change provides for a better overall measure of child well-being in each state. The correlation between state rankings in this year’s index and the previous year are quite high, though there are a few states, Arizona among them that did see a drop in their rankings because of the greater emphasis on measures for education and family and community factors.
The state with the best overall rank was New Hampshire. New Hampshire has consistently been the highest ranked state, and this extends to the new format as well. In fact, Northeastern states rank highly on childhood well-being as a group, while Southern states measure among the lowest. The four categories of the index each have a different state positioned at the top: Economic Well-Being – North Dakota, Education – Massachusetts, Health – Vermont, and Family and Community – New Hampshire. New Hampshire and Minnesota are the only states to rank among the top ten in all four areas.
In every category but one, Arizona is among the bottom five states. The overall ranking for Arizona is 46; the states ranking lower are Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Mississippi. Arizona is 46th in Economic Well-Being and for each of the four measures in that category the state scores worse than the national average, and has not experienced improvement over the last several years. The state ranks 46th in Education as well, and though Arizona has shown progress in educational measures, it still lags behind the nation as a whole. The Family and Community category also places Arizona 46th. Though the state shows improvement over time in two of the four measures here, it is again below national averages. Health was the only category in which Arizona ranks above the bottom tier, showing up at 36th among all states. As in Education, Arizona has made strides in most of the health indicators over time. The only measure in the Health category in which Arizona lost ground is the number of low birthweight babies, and ironically it is the only indicator out of all 16 in which our state does better than the nation as a whole.
Table 1 compares Arizona measure by measure with the U.S. overall, while Table 2 shows how all 50 states rank overall and by category.