The healthiest states in America
December 2, 2001 6:24 AM   Subscribe

The healthiest states in America "Louisiana finished last, preceded by Mississippi (49), South Carolina (48), West Virginia (47), and Florida (46)... Minnesota captured first place by scoring highest overall in categories measuring access to health care, disability, disease, mortality, and occupational safety." full report here.
posted by kliuless (9 comments total)
Woohoo! Go Jersey! We're #20! We're #20!
posted by clevershark at 8:51 AM on December 2, 2001

Eeeewwwww, Delaware. Slipped from 35th to 38th. I knew our cancer rate was up there. I had no idea the infant mortality rate was so high.
posted by MAYORBOB at 9:14 AM on December 2, 2001

Minnesota is a great place to live, if you're not a frog.
posted by gleemax at 9:33 AM on December 2, 2001

The lowest-rankers compute. Per capita incomes are lower in states like Miss., Louisiana and West Virginia, fewer dollars are going into education, etc. There also seems to be a political culture thing going on here - New England and the Upper Midwest always come out ahead in these surveys, despite not having the highest incomes. The results mostly sound right, on an intuitive level.

But why Florida? The age factor? Just the violence ("rates of violence" measures are notoriously unreliable anyway, given that they vary according to state law, depend upon self-reporting by law enforcement, etc.). What's the magic independent variable here?

The story is less than satisfying. The whole study is based on a slapped-together index (an artificial construct even when well-considered), and is not weighted for any potential bias, as far as I can tell.
posted by raysmj at 10:19 AM on December 2, 2001

I found a sidebar to that page interesting, the so-called deadliest cars of all time.

Also, anyone know where I could find a similar state-by-state ranking, but about current literacy rates?
posted by LeLiLo at 10:32 AM on December 2, 2001

The Bushes worked on Texas and Florida first, soon to be followed by the other 48.
posted by mmarcos at 10:33 AM on December 2, 2001

It's funny that the five most dangerous cars of all time are just sitting there, minding their own business and looking cool, while the five safest cars of all time are all pictured in collisions.
posted by Hildago at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2001

Sheesh. Raysmj, you're absolutely right. Doesn't anyone around there know how to do a principal components analysis or a factor analysis, for heaven's sake? How'd they come up with those weights? Personal opinion? Oh, "input from experts", I see. What kind of empirical evidence do they have that the effect of violent crime and motor vehicle deaths are exactly the same?

I wonder how many good research ideas funded by government or corporations are completely undercut by bad analysis.
posted by Chanther at 4:17 PM on December 2, 2001

Eeeewwwww, Delaware. Slipped from 35th to 38th. I knew our cancer rate was up there. I had no idea the infant mortality rate was so high.

MAYORBOB, you read the column headings backwards - Delaware actually became relatively healthier in the ratings, by three. But, in addition to the troubling infant mortality rating of 47, I'm bothered by the 44 in the violent crime category. The number of shootings and other violent crimes in Wilmington have increased tremendously over the last couple of years, and it is becoming less and less a place where I want to work. Maybe we need to find the states with the lowest crime rates and recruit some new police officers from those states?

I agree that there are problems with a survey like this one - but it might have some uses. If the reasons for improvement on the measures of successes page are things that can be shared and can provide inspiration for new approaches, then the survey is helpful. The National Governors Association's pages include a lot of information about best practices developed by different states, and efforts by others to learn from them.
posted by bragadocchio at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2001

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