CNBC has just come out with a list of the best and worst states to live in. Taking into account such factors as “local attractions, the crime rate… air and water quality and pollution… access to recreational areas… [and] health care including facilities, insurance coverage and outcomes,” they have assigned each state a score, with the highest possible being 350 and the highest achieved being a disappointing 298. Condensed, here is is:
1) New Hampshire (298 points);
2) Hawaii (284 points);
3) Vermont (255 points);
4) Maine (254 points);
5) Minnesota (250 points, tied with North Dakota);
5) North Dakota (250 points, tied with Minnesota);
7) South Dakota (247 points);
8 ) Colorado (246 points);
9) Wyoming (244 points);
10) Utah (237 points)
The report makes it very clear what criteria are important when judging which states are “best,” a wildly subjective adjective. One thing I didn’t notice, however, was any focus on reproductive rights issues (such as access to abortion and birth control) or parental leave laws. While the report was rather vague, and did not give a definitive list of its ranking system, it did state “factors” that affected its decisions, and the closest it got to reproductive rights was “insurance coverage” — not exactly stellar representation.
So, I decided to do an investigation. After looking up 2012’s best and worst states for working parents (a report conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families) and the best and worst states for women (conducted by ivillage.com), I compared their tops and bottoms with CNBC’s. The results? Surprising.
CNBC’s top five states are all in the top ten of at least one of the other lists (Hawaii features in both), which makes sense — even if CNBC wasn’t setting out to measure them, I’d like to believe that rights for women and parents would somehow trickle through to other areas. And if we left it there, it would show that it does.
Then I looked at the next five on the list, CNBC’s best states 5-10. That’s where it got fishy, because all of them except Colorado (which showed up on only CNBC’s list) are on the bottom of the lists for either parents’ or women’s rights. Overachiever South Dakota even makes it onto the bottom of both lists.
This confuses me. If only a few of CNBC’s states were on the other lists, it would be easy to say that they simply didn’t focus on women’s and parents’ rights, and that having or not having those rights didn’t trickle through to other things in ways that CNBC measured. In that case, I could write a post asking CNBC why the heck the hadn’t looked at either of those things in their study (and it is incredibly bad that they didn’t; these issues affect even those of us who aren’t women and parents).
If most of CNBC’s states had shown up on top of the women and parent lists, that would also be easy to explain. But that’s not the case; out of 50 states, every one of CNBC’s “best states to live in” except Colorado showed up at the top or bottom of the other lists — half on top, half on bottom. Statistically, that seems improbable, yet I have no idea how to explain the phenomenon. Is it a fluke? If anyone else understands this, please enlighten us in the comments section.