The well-worn joke is that every morning 49 Governors wake up and say a silent prayer of thanks for the State of Mississippi. They know that as long as Mississippi is around their state will never be at the bottom of an education, health, or social index; 49th is as low as they’ll go.
As it turns out, all is not so simple and other states have their share of flaws, ably documented by Pleated Jeans. Wisconsinites drink too much, Connecticut leads the nation in breast cancer, and Texas schools are drop-out factories. In sharing this information, an Economist blogger (the insistence on anonymity is maddening) wrote, “It would also be illuminating, though not especially funny, to do a similar map showing what states are best at…That would highlight some productive experiments from our laboratories of democracies.”
So in the interest of pointing to States in which we’re on our way to “winning the future”, and possibly helping some 5th graders with their social studies projects, I’m making a rough draft of such a map with this post serving as the appendix/list of citations. If you have suggestions, send ‘em my way. Click through for the data.
Why is Your State Awesome?
Alabama: Highest church attendance. I’ll provisionally accept this as a good thing, for Robert Putnam-esque reasons.
Alaska: Most equal society, that is has the lowest GINI coefficient of any state. (PDF)
Arkansas: Most bromine production. Sorry Arkansas.
California: Lowest occupational fatality rate.
Colorado: Least Obese.
Connecticut: Lowest carbon emissions per capita.
Delaware: Best state for business incorporation. (PDF)
Florida: Lowest in-state college tuition.
Georgia: Hosts busiest airport
Hawaii: Highest life expectancy.
Idaho: Most computer manufacturing per capita
Illinois: Most “Average”
Indiana: Most Vice Presidents
Iowa: Lowest rate of sick days.
Kansas: Wheat production.
Kentucky: Incredible rate of gun ownership is a point of pride for some…
Louisiana: Busiest Port.
Maine: Least violent crime.
Maryland: Highest median household income.
Massachusetts: Most college graduates (PDF)
Michigan: Freshwater access
Minnesota: Fewest cardiovascular deaths.
Mississippi: Most churches per capita…
Missouri: Political Bellwether, though on the wane…
Montana: American Indian Political Power. “the Montana Legislature boasts the strongest American Indian representation per capita of any state….it is the only state that has a tribal college for each Indian reservation, and no other state has full accreditation of all its tribal colleges, as Montana does. Montana leads the nation in number of tribal colleges within the state (seven).”
Nebraska: Lowest rate of public corruption.
Nevada: Libertarian prostitution laws.
New Hampshire: Lowest Poverty rate.
New Jersey: Lowest suicide rate.
New Mexico: Home to space port
New York: Highest Public Transit Use (26.9%)
North Carolina: Best Value University
North Dakota: Lowest unemployment rate.
Ohio: Library visits per capita.
Oklahoma: Best License Plates.
Oregon: Highest proportion of babies breastfed at 6 months.
Pennsylvania: Most Hunters (PDF)
Rhode Island: Lowest coal consumption per capita
South Carolina: Most Golf holes per capita
South Dakota: Fewest Mental health days taken.
Tennessee: Highest rate of immunization (!)
Texas: Wind Power.
Utah: Highest reported well-being. Lowest use of most illicit substances and alcohol.
Vermont: Overall healthiest.
Virginia: Most US Presidents born there.
Washington: Highest SAT scores among states that primarily use SAT and lowest infant mortality. Thanks to Omnomnominator for spotting a missing citation.
West Virginia: Most Retirees.
Wisconsin: Highest HS graduation rate. (PDF)
Wyoming: Cleanest air.