One of the most common measures used for ranking the level of development and wealth of a given country or geography is gross national income adjusted for population — or GNI per capita. And by this measure, the U.S. compares very well to much of the world.
This measure, however, reveals very little about the well-being of the population. In order to address this shortcoming, the United Nations Development Programme designed the Human Development Index, or HDI, which consists of three core concepts of well-being: health, knowledge and education, and financial security.
24/7 Wall St. created its own index using the HDI model in order to rank the best and worst states to live in. Our index consists of three measures: life expectancy at birth, bachelor’s degree attainment, and poverty.
After ranking states based on these criteria, some clear geographic patterns emerge. For example, all but one state in the Northeast ranks among the top 25 states, while nine out of the 10 lowest ranking states on this list are in the South. This is partially the result of higher educational attainment rates in the Northeastern United States — not only was education included in the index, but also better-educated adults tend to have healthier lifestyles and higher incomes, which are reflected in the index’s other measures of poverty and life expectancy. Here is a full ranking of America’s most and least educated states.
The measures used to rank this index tend to correlate strongly with other socioeconomic measures indicative of overall quality of life. For example, the high-ranking states on this list tend to have strong job markets, while low ranking states tend to have higher unemployment rates. Similarly, high-ranking states tend to have relatively low violent crime rates, while the lowest-ranked states tend to be more dangerous. These are America’s most violent and peaceful states.