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In Terms of Family Friendliness, the East Coast and Upper Midwest Reign Supreme

A new study from Wallethub, which ranks the family-friendliest cities in the U.S., makes a strong case for the colder states.


The personal finance website Wallethub has just released a study that details the best and worst states in which parents can raise a family. And it seems that parents looking to start a family should bundle up and head to the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

The study measured all states using five key dimensions — family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability, and socio-economics and gave each of the five dimensions 20 points to divide between a sub-set of specific metrics that will to contribute towards a total score for that dimension. The weighted average of the five dimension scores was then combined to rank states on a 100 point scale. For example, the dimension called “health and safety” has 20 points to spare with a max score of four points dedicated to the “share of young families with children”, 12 points to “number of attractions”, and four points  to “fitness and recreational centers per capita.”

Using these metrics, Massachusetts came out as on top with a score of 63.37. Not only is the state ranked number one, but it is also one of five Northeastern States in the list’s top 10. Minnesota, the number two state with a score of 62.46, is one of 4 Midwestern States in the top 10. The only state in the top 10 located outside the Midwest or Northeast is California which rounds out the list in the 10th spot.

The dominance of the Northeast and Midwest regions is driven by stronger education systems, lower divorce rates, and fewer families living below the poverty line.This is contextualized well with a comparison between child care costs and childcare poverty in two states on opposite sides of the list, Mississippi and New York City. While according to the study, Mississippi has the lowest childcare costs. But a separate study conducted by the National Center For Children in Poverty found that 57 percent of children in the state live below the federal poverty line.

New York, the state which the study ranks highest in terms of most expensive child-care, has a childhood poverty rate of only 42 percent. So, while Mississippi has exponentially cheaper child care than New York City, it ranks second to last on the overall list.

Understanding this is crucial to understanding the Wallethub study. The Education and childcare dimension only has to divide its 20 points between seven metrics, while the socio-economic dimension (including metrics related to poverty) divides its points up between 12 metrics. In terms of overall ranking, that means Missippi’s low cost of child care won’t bode as well for the Magnolia State as a much lower overall childhood poverty rate will for New York.