Alabama ranked in the bottom tier of states on each of the measures of child well-being assessed in the 2017 Kids Count Data Book.
The report, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Alabama 44th in the country for overall child well-being, an improvement from the state’s 46th place ranking in last year’s report.
Many of statistics measured for the report reflect issues linked to poverty. The Kids County report said that researchers a decade ago estimated that poverty cost the country about $500 billion in reduced economic output and increased health and criminal justice costs.
“Yet economic mobility in the United States has stagnated,” report said. “The American Dream that talent and hard work will lead to a steady climb up the economic ladder has become largely out of reach for people starting at the bottom of the income scale.”
The overall ranking takes into account a state’s scores on four broad categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Economic Well-Being: Alabama ranked 38th nationally in the overall economic well-being of its children. The study found that 27 percent of children in the state – a total of 291,000 children – live in poverty, compared to the national average of 21 percent.
Education: Alabama ranked 42nd in the country in issues of education, according to the report. It had the highest percentage of eighth graders
not proficient in math, 83 percent. The national average is 68 percent. But only 11 percent of students in Alabama do not graduate high school on time, one of the lowest percentages in the country. The national average is 17 percent.
Health: Alabama also ranked 42nd on measures of children’s health. The state still outpaces national averages for low birth-weight babies, which was 10.4 percent in Alabama compared to an 8.1 percent national average. But only 3 percent of children in the state are not covered by health insurance, compared to 5 percent nationally.
Family and Community: Alabama ranked 43rd in the country on measures of family and community. In Alabama, 40 percent of children live in single-parent households, compared to 35 percent nationally, and 16 percent of Alabama children live in high-poverty neighborhoods. The national average was 14 percent.
More detailed information is available at the foundation’s Kids Count Data Center. Interactive searches on hundreds of child well-being indicators is available for the nation, states, cities, counties and congressional districts.