A new study based on data collected and compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation uses a pretty simple equation make state-by-state comparisons of key childhood indicators across race. Unsurprisingly, the report show that white children tend to have more resources, come from families with more money, and spend more years in school. But the researchers did not find whiteness and the experience of whiteness to be monolithic. Opportunity is not just about race, but about community and family. And communities vary widely. White children in the Northeast, for instance, tend to have advantages that white children in the Deep South lack.
The “Composite Index Score” on which the study rated opportunities for children is an aggregation of 12-key indicators, including birthweight, percentage of children enrolled in preschool, on-time high-school graduation, parental educational achievement, and percentage of two-parent households, prior research have shown to be predictive of future success. Money was also a major factor.
White children outpace every other racial group in the overall index score. But state index scores varied widely.
White children do the best in the Northeast, with kids in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland taking the top 3 in state-to-state comparisons of index scores. They also do the worst in the South: the lowest ranking states were West Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Alabama, to name a few. This trend is similar to those of African-American children, who have also historically and currently do worse in the South than in other geographic regions in the United States.
White children still do better than every other race in basically every state. For example, while Alaska is somehow the highest performing state for African-American children with a composite index score of 626, that state ranks only 25 for White Children with a composite score of 715. The highest composite score for white children is in New Jersey at an index of 842, a number not matched or beaten except for Asian and Pacific Islander children in the same state of New Jersey at 918. So, while it’s good to be a white kid in pretty much every state, it’s best to be white in New Jersey.