These Are 2021’s Best and Worst States to Raise a Family, Report Says

The best state to raise a family? Massachusetts.
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ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
January 13, 2021

Raising a family can be challenging on its own, but your surroundings also play a role—including what city and state you choose to raise your family in. Many families have relocated this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and, now, a report from WalletHub, a personal finance website, is evaluating the best and worst states to raise a family.

The annual report figured out which states were best for families by comparing the 50 states across 52 key indicators of family-friendliness, including median family income, housing affordability, unemployment rate and more. The indicators were housed under five key dimensions: family fun, health and safety, education and childcare, affordability and socioeconomics. It then ranked the states based on overall score. This year’s health and safety section factored in the state’s COVID-19 positive testing and mortality rates, while the education and childcare section factored in parental leave policies.

According to the report, the best state to raise a family is Massachusetts, with Minnesota coming in second. The two have switched places, as last year’s report found Minnesota to be the best state to raise a family, with Massachusetts coming in as a close second. Meanwhile, the list of 10 worst states to raise a family has largely remained unchanged between the 2020 and 2021 reports.

This year, the report found that Minnesota has the highest median annual family income (adjusted for the cost of living), $85,473, which is 1.5 times higher than in New York, where it’s lowest at $57,450. Meanwhile, Utah has the lowest separation and divorce rate at 15.74 percent, which is 1.7 times lower than in Nevada, where it’s highest at 26.07 percent.

The report found New Hampshire had the lowest shares of families living in poverty at 4.6 percent, a figure that is 3.4 times lower than Mississippi, which has the highest percentage at 15.5 percent. For average annual cost of early childcare (as part of the median family income), South Dakota has the lowest at 7.22 percent, while Nebraska has the highest at 13.19 percent. In terms of safety, Maine has the fewest violent crimes (per 1,000 residents), while Alaska has the most.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 best and worst states to raise a family, based on their overall scores.

Top 10 Best States to Raise a Family

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Minnesota
  3. North Dakota
  4. New York
  5. Vermont
  6. New Hampshire
  7. New Jersey
  8. Washington
  9. Connecticut
  10. Utah

Top 10 Worst States to Raise a Family

  1. New Mexico
  2. Mississippi
  3. West Virginia
  4. Louisiana
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Arkansas
  7. Alabama
  8. South Carolina
  9. Arizona
  10. Nevada

For a detailed breakdown on how the states were scored, check out the full online report.

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