New Index Gives Mountain West States High Ranking For Social And Economic Qualities

Originally published on May 22, 2018 10:12 am

You’ve probably heard about the GDP or those “best places to live” rankings. The Family Prosperity Index also factors in family life as a measure of well-being. And the latest rankings show Mountain West states doing pretty well.

Utah tops the latest index, followed by Idaho. Colorado and Wyoming are also in the top 10, and Montana is ranked no. 15.

Economics and income are part of the picture, according to this index. Other metrics include drug abuse, religious attendance, infant mortality and crime rates.

“That’s what we’re really trying to show here is that interrelationship between economic factors and social factors,” said J. Scott Moody, who developed the index with his wife. “You really can’t separate the two without causing long-term harm to your overall state.”

“When we say prosperity, a lot of times we narrow our definitions to a couple of financial things like income,” said Derek Monson of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank that helped fund the work. “But out in the real world it encompasses a lot more, and the index reflects that and captures a lot of those other variables.”

The American Conservative Union also helped finance the index, but Monson says the findings aren’t partisan.

“Anybody who cares about families being strong, being happy, being prosperous should care about this,” he said.

Moody echoed the idea that the results aren’t ideological. He said the analysis is based on 60 measures from government agencies. And the goal is a comprehensive look at the interrelationship between a healthy economy and healthy families.

“Hopefully we can find some new and innovative solutions that everybody can get behind.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. 

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