Minnesota topped a WalletHub ranking of the best states for “family-friendliness,” followed by Massachusetts, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.
Rounding out the top 10: New Jersey was No. 7, followed by Nebraska, Connecticut, and Washington.
The study compared states using 50 indicators related to families with children. Some were budget considerations, such as median salary and housing affordability. Others measured health and education factors, and kid-friendly state policies such as family leave.
“Currently, employers in only eight states in the U.S., and Washington D.C., are required to offer paid family leave for employees to bond with a new child, care for their own or a family member’s serious health condition and take time off when a family member is on active duty,” said Kelly Chandler, a professor at Oregon State University.
The study also looked at childcare, “specifically the availability, accessibility, and affordability of child care,” Chandler said.
“Many families live in areas referred to as child care deserts, with more than three children for every one-child care slot,” she said. “My research shows that work-family balance – or, as I call it, work-family fit – affects each family member’s health and well-being, as well as family relationship quality. Americans’ lack of work-family fit is a major public health concern.”
Another set of family-friendly measurements focused on “fun factors” such as the availability of playgrounds and other attractions.
The worst state in the ranking was New Mexico. It was followed by Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“Wants and needs don’t always align,” the report said. “A state might offer a low income-tax rate but have a subpar education system. However, families do not need to make these kinds of tradeoffs. They can avoid such problems by knowing which states offer the best combination of qualities that matter most to parents and their kids.”