The 10 Worst States for Women’s Health and Well-Being

It’s 2019, and women still face inequality and attacks on their health and well-being. And the quality of life for women can vary greatly, depending on where they live.

A recent study from WalletHub compared life for women across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It broke down 24 indicators of living standards into two main categories: women’s economic and social well-being and women’s health and safety. Each state was awarded points for the 24 indicators, which determined its overall rank on the list.

Here are the 10 worst states for women, followed by the 10 best states, according to WalletHub.

10. Texas

A barn in rural Texas with the state flag painted on the roofCredit: Hundley_Photography/Getty Images

We kick off the bottom 10 with Texas, which had poor performances in both of the main categories. The state came in 44th for women’s economic and social well-being — and within that category it had a low rate of women who voted in the 2016 presidential election. Plus, Texas came in 38th for women’s health and safety. Within that category, the state had the highest female uninsured rate in the country.

9. New Mexico

New Mexico’s category ranks — 41st in economic and social well-being and 40th in health and safety — gave it a slightly worse overall score than Texas. Within the women’s economic and social well-being category, the state had one of the lowest high school graduation rates for women. And perhaps in relation to that, it also had one of the highest unemployment rates for women.

8. Idaho

Idaho’s overall score put it in eighth out of the 10 worst states for women. The state actually achieved the best category rank out of the entire bottom 10 with its 30th-place finish in women’s health and safety. That category included indicators, such as the quality of women’s hospitals, the share of women who were up to date on preventative health care and the prevalence of rape and homicide victimization among women. But Idaho was near the bottom (48th place) for women’s economic and social well-being. And within that category, the state had the second lowest percentage of women-owned businesses.

7. West Virginia

West Virginia’s overall score was only slightly worse than Idaho’s. For women’s economic and social well-being, the state came in 42nd place. And within that category, it had the second lowest percentage of women who voted in the 2016 presidential election. Moreover, for the health and safety category, West Virginia came in 44th. And within that, it had a low life expectancy for women at birth.

6. Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s overall score dropped notably lower than West Virginia’s, and its category ranks were near the bottom. The state came in 43rd for economic and social well-being — and within that had a low rate of women who voted in the 2016 presidential election. Plus, the state came in 50th for women’s health and safety. In that category, it had one of the highest female uninsured rates in the country, as well as a low life expectancy for women at birth.

5. Alabama

Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama road signCredit: Allard1/Getty Images

Alabama’s new abortion law wasn’t factored into these rankings. But even so, it still landed as the fifth-worst state for women in the U.S. For the women’s economic and social well-being category, Alabama came in 47th. The state had a high percentage of women in poverty, as well as one of the lowest high school graduation rates for women. And for the women’s health and safety category, Alabama took 46th. It also was one of the states with a low life expectancy for women at birth.

4. Arkansas

There’s not much going for women’s health and well-being in Arkansas. The state came in 46th place for the women’s economic and social well-being category. And it ended up dead last — 51st place — for women’s health and safety. Within that category, Arkansas had one of the highest female homicide rates in the country.

3. South Carolina

South Carolina landed in the bottom three with poor performances in both categories. It came in 47th for women’s health and safety. And it took last place for women’s economic and social well-being. That category included indicators, such as median earnings for female workers, job security for women, affordability of doctor’s visits, friendliness toward working moms and friendliness toward women’s equality.

2. Mississippi

Mississippi only missed out on being the worst state for women by a hundredth of a point. So suffice it to say things aren’t great for women’s health and well-being there. The state came in 49th place for both of the main categories. It had one of the highest unemployment rates for women, as well as the highest percentage of women in poverty. Mississippi also had one of the lowest high school graduation rates for women. And life expectancy for women at birth was low.

1. Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana, aerial viewCredit: Kruck20/Getty Images

Louisiana ended up with the lowest overall score, giving it the title of the worst state for women in the United States. Louisiana came in 50th for women’s economic and social well-being. And within that category, it had the third highest percentage of women in poverty. Moreover, Louisiana took 48th for women’s health and safety. It had a low life expectancy for women at birth. And the state had one of the highest female homicide rates in the country.

The 10 best states for women

Minneapolis, Minnesota skylineCredit: Davel5957/Getty Images

Those were the 10 worst states for women in the country. Now, here are the 10 best states for women’s health and well-being, according to WalletHub.

  • 10. Vermont
  • 9. Hawaii
  • 8. Colorado
  • 7. Maine
  • 6. Connecticut
  • 5. New York
  • 4. Washington, D.C.
  • 3. North Dakota
  • 2. Massachusetts
  • 1. Minnesota

Several factors contributed to these states’ strong scores — though some still had a few strikes against them, as well.

In the women’s economic and social well-being category, Washington, D.C., and Minnesota had some of the highest median earnings for female workers, adjusted for cost of living. However, Maine, New York and Hawaii had low median earnings for women.

Hawaii, North Dakota, Colorado and Minnesota tied for first (along with Iowa and Nebraska) for the lowest unemployment rate for women. But Washington, D.C., had one of the highest unemployment rates for women.

Furthermore, Connecticut and Hawaii were two of the states with the lowest percentage of women in poverty. North Dakota and Minnesota had strong high school graduation rates for women. And Colorado had the second highest percentage of women-owned businesses. But Vermont had a low rate of women-owned businesses.

Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of women who voted in the 2016 presidential election, followed by Maine. But Hawaii actually had the lowest rate of women who voted for president in 2016.

For the women’s health and safety category, Massachusetts, D.C., Vermont, Hawaii and Minnesota topped the rest of the country for the lowest female uninsured rate.

Plus, Hawaii had the highest women’s life expectancy at birth, followed by Minnesota, Connecticut and Massachusetts. And Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont were among the top five for the lowest female homicide rates in the country.

Main image credit: Tassii/Getty Images

55 comments

Jeramie D
Jeramie D21 days ago

Wow. I was born in the worst state, WVa, raised in another bad state, Arkansas and now live in Idaho. I sure can pick them.

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Marija Mohoric
Marija Mohoric22 days ago

OMG!!!

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Ruth S
Ruth S22 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S22 days ago

Thanks.

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Emma L
Past Member 22 days ago

Thank you

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Amparo Fabiana C

Good to know, but where is California, number 11 and what list?

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JoAnn P
JoAnn P22 days ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Sylvia B
Sylvia B23 days ago

One other thing I noticed about the states with restrictions on abortion access is that they also have the death penalty. Rather than having unwanted kids grow up to be psycho killers, let the mothers, who have a better sense of whether or not it is a good idea, decide when and/or if they want to bring a child into the world.

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Janet B
Janet B23 days ago

Thanks

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Melanie St. Germaine

Go Hawaii

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