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A Portrait of Louisiana: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009

September 17, 2009

Louisiana ranks 49th among U.S. states and Washington, D.C. on the American Human Development Index, with wide disparities within the state. This new study examines disparities by parish, race, and gender in Louisiana, and calls for action to address the acute human vulnerability that persists today, four years after Hurricane Katrina. The report is commissioned by Oxfam America and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, with funding from Oxfam America and the Foundation for the Mid South. What's new in this report? A human development index for Louisiana, using post-Katrina data, with rankings by parish groups, ethnicity and gender. The index reveals that while some groups within the state enjoy levels of well-being that surpass those of first-ranked Connecticut, others experience health, education, and income levels of the rest of the country thirty, forty, even fifty years ago; First-ever 2007 life expectancy calculations for all Louisiana parishes and for whites and African Americans in each parish; Reliable international comparisons of groups within Louisiana to well-being measures in other countries. African American life span in Louisiana today (72.2 years) is shorter than that in Colombia, Vietnam and Venezuela. Evidence from disaster recovery around the world suggests that the rebuilding phase often results in a further concentration of power and resources in the hands of elites. Through this research, we have calculated that federal hurricane recovery dollars directed to Louisiana thus far amount to nearly $15,000 for each and every man, woman, and child in the state. Ensuring that recovery benefits everyone requires that Louisiana state and local officials set concrete targets and provide easily understood reports to the general public on the use of recovery dollars. Equally critical is that the people of Louisiana and Mississippi raise their voices to demand accountability.

Goals for the Common Good: Exploring the Impact of Education

May 12, 2009

Those who advocate for greater investment in education often make the economic argument: more education leads to higher wages and is critical for financial stability and independence. They're right. Robust evidence supports the view that higher levels of educational attainment are linked to higher incomes, less unemployment, less poverty, and less reliance on public assistance. But education is about more than just better jobs and bigger paychecks, important though they are in making families and individuals more financially stable. More education is also linked to better physical and mental health, longer lives, fewer crimes, less incarceration, more voting, greater tolerance, and brighter prospects for the next generation. More education is good for individuals who stay in school to earn their high school degree or who enter and graduate college, but it is also good for all of us, paying big dividends in the form of increased civic engagement, greater neighborhood safety, and a healthy, vibrant democracy. This report is a companion piece to the online Common Good ForecasterTM, a joint product of United Way and the American Human Development Project. It takes a closer look at the ten indicators featured on the Forecaster and makes the case for why education matters to each of these critical areas. The Common Good ForecasterTM is an online tool available at www.measureofamerica.org/forecaster and www.liveunited.org/forecaster.

A Portrait of Mississippi: Mississippi Human Development Report 2009

January 26, 2009

Mississippi ranks last among U.S. states on the American Human Development Index. But some groups in the state enjoy well-being levels similar to those in top-ranked Connecticut, while others experience levels of human development of the average American nearly a half century ago. The Mississippi State Conference NAACP commissioned this analysis by county, gender, and race to stimulate dialogue and action about Mississippi's disparities. Main Findings BY COUNTY: The top three county groups in the state, Rankin, Madison-Hinds, and DeSoto, are well ahead of the rest of the state in well-being with a human development level around the U.S. average. A resident of top-ranked Rankin County lives, on average, 6 years longer than a resident of the bottom-ranked Panola-Coahoma area, is 3 times more likely to complete college, and earns over $12,000 more. Mississippians living in Panola-Coahoma have a human development level similar to that of the average American in 1975, more than thirty years ago. BY RACE: Whites who are worst off in the entire state in terms of income are still better off than the vast majority of African Americans. Earnings for white Mississippians in all county groups spans from $22,000 to $38,000. For African Americans, the range is $13,000 to $25,000. An African American baby boy born today in Mississippi can expect a shorter lifespan than the average American in 1960. BY GENDER: Mississippi's females have a higher Human Development Index than do males, despite the fact that they earn 33 percent less, because females live over 5 years longer and have far higher rates of school enrollment. White men in Mississippi earn an average of $5,000 more per year than the typical American worker today, at $33,390. But white women have median personal earnings about equal to what typical Americans earned in 1980, $21,453. Main Recommendations Reduce infant mortality by improving health care for African American girls and women. African American babies die in Mississippi at more than twice the rate of white babies. The death of a child is a loss like no other, and the burden of grief borne by the African American community is heavy. The solution lies in ensuring that women have access to quality medical care and that girls grow to adulthood in an environment that supports them to eat a nutritious diet, get adequate exercise, manage chronic conditions like diabetes and HIV, cope with stress, and enjoy overall mental health. Improve the health of African American men. An African American baby boy born today in Mississippi can expect to live 68.2 years. This is a lifespan shorter than that of the average American in 1960. African American men in Mississippi die at higher rates than white men from the leading causes of death -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- as well as from other causes like homicide, accidents, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. The premature loss of African American men is a source of both economic and emotional distress in African American communities. Improve the quality of public education in Mississippi. Mississippi has some of the worst scores in the nation on most measures of K -- 12 educational quality. It is difficult to imagine how the state can make economic progress when the future workforce is deprived of the opportunity to develop even basic skills, much less the higher-order skills needed to obtain better-paying jobs, such as independence of thought, communications skills, interpersonal skills, and technology literacy. Connect at-risk boys to school. About a third of Mississippi's African American men over 25 do not have a high school diploma. And today, still greater numbers of African American boys are leaving high school without graduating. Without a high school diploma, prison becomes a far likelier destination than college. The high rate of juvenile detention in Mississippi, especially for nonviolent offenses, is a worrisome impediment to long-term ability of African American boys to become productive members of society and to lead fulfilling lives of choice, freedom, and dignity. Ensure that working families can make ends meet. White men in Mississippi are, on average, earning about $5,000 more per year than the typical American worker today. But African American women today earn less than the typical American in 1960; African American men earn what typical Americans earned in 1970; and white women what typical Americans earned in 1980. More than one in five Mississippians lives below the poverty line; nearly seven in ten public school students qualifies for a subsidized lunch. Other states help working families meet a basic monthly budget with a state earned income tax credit, state minimum wages, affordable housing, affordable health care options, and subsidized childcare. Such policies help to create an infrastructure of opportunity for all.

The Measure of America Interactive Maps

July 16, 2008

Ever wondered how your state stacks up compared with others on obesity rates, SAT scores, or number of recent army recruits? How does your congressional district fare compared to your neighbors on life expectancy, high school dropout rates, or earnings? Find out with our mapping tool, which allows you to create customized maps by state or congressional district. We've also got interactive maps for Mississippi and Louisiana, the sources of two recent case studies on human development at the state level. These maps are customizable by county. Launch an interactive map of the United States and congressional districts.

American Human Development Index Data by Congressional District

July 16, 2008

The Human Development IndexThe state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

American Human Development Index Data by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Region

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

American Human Development Index Data by State

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

Measure of America Data Chart: Access to Knowledge

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

Measure of America Data Chart: A Decent Standard of Living

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

Measure of America Data Chart: A Long and Healthy Life

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

Measure of America Data Chart: Demographics

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.

Measure of America Data Chart: Housing and Transportation

July 16, 2008

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring.The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand numerical measure made up of what most people believe are the very basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income. The first Human Development Index was presented in 1990. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to number 177 (currently Sierra Leone).This composite index has become one of the most widely used indices of well-being around the world and has succeeded in broadening the measurement and discussion of well-being beyond the important, but nevertheless narrow, confines of income. In a number of countries, the Human Development Index is now an official government statistic; its annual publication inaugurates serious political discussion and renewed efforts, nationally and regionally, to improve lives.