When it comes to economic well-being, education, health and community, the best states to raise your kids are in the Northeast.
New Hampshire ranked first, followed by Massachusetts and Vermont, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore, Md.-based private philanthropic group focused on children’s well-being. The worst-ranked states were Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi. Fittingly, Midwestern states found themselves in the middle of the rankings, while southern states were for the most part in the bottom of the rankings.
Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico were not compared to the states, but they do have some of the lowest indicators for overall well-being, according to the report. Rankings were based on a score of the four factors (economic well-being, education, health, and family and community), but some states had countering results (Idaho, for example, was 11th under family and community but 43rd in education).
See: The 10 most expensive places to raise a family in the U.S.
Economic well-being included places with affordable housing and well-paying jobs; education factored in quality schooling in children’s younger years; health was based on overall development and health care, substance abuse and nutrition; and family and community factored in strong social-emotional relationships and resources children could use to grow mentally and emotionally.
Not all of the states in the Northeast ranked high — New York, as well as Maine, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were excluded from the top of the list. Some economists argue cities are financially challenging places to raise a family, and a study released earlier this year by real estate website Zillow Z and child-care site Care.com showed city-dwelling families spend more on housing as well as child-care — an average of $9,000 on the latter alone. (There are some notable exceptions: This man in Vancouver, Canada lives in a 1,050-square-foot condominium with his five children.)
See also: This is why Dutch kids are much happier than American children
Where you live with your child isn’t all that matters, though. The way children are brought up varies wildly country to country, and what a child really needs is physical affection and to clearly understand what is expected of them, said Robert and Sarah LeVine, authors of “Do Parents Matter? Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight and American Families Should Just Relax.” Children are resilient, regardless of where and how they’re brought up, the authors found.