Bay State tops NE in creating family-friendly conditions

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Massachusetts tops New England in terms of social and economic policies that improve family well-being and prosperity, as well as that of their communities, according to a recently developed index.

The Bay State ranked in the top 20, ahead of New Hampshire, which held the top spot in 2015 rankings in the Family Prosperity Index. Massachusetts moved up five places from 2015, while the Granite State dropped six places. Connecticut fell two places to dead last.

The index provides a guide to government policymakers, analysts and civic organizations and seeks to demonstrate the effects of laws and regulations on families. By improving the understanding of these effects, the initiative from the American Conservative Union Foundation in Washington aims to foster the development of social and economic policies that strengthen the self-sufficiency of families which drive the U.S. economy.

“It will help both citizens and policymakers at all levels better see the cost or benefit of changes in America’s social and economic policies and create a path toward real solutions to problems at every level,” Matt Schlapp, the American Conservative Union chairman, said in a statement about the index.

The rankings show Massachusetts has outpaced the other New England states and New York in terms of household real income since at least 2000, rising to over $153,000 by 2014. In New Hampshire, the comparable figure was just above $130,000. By this measure, Maine ranked lowest in New England, at just under $95,000. The index doesn’t specifically define what’s included in the income figures.

Massachusetts also topped the other New England states in terms of entrepreneurship, which measures things like job creation and the establishment of new businesses. But in overall economic terms, which includes the proportion of income from private-sector sources and jobless rates, New Hampshire did better than the Bay State, ranking 12th in the nation compared with 14th for Massachusetts in 2016.

In terms of family issues, the Bay State scores low in the family structure category of the latest index, although it rose from the bottom 10 states in 2015. Massachusetts scores among the top 10 in terms of family self-sufficiency, which measures the extent of dependency on government programs, and culture, which includes rates of teen pregnancy and educational achievement.

All the New England states score in the bottom 10 in terms of demographics, which includes age of the population and population growth. Maine ranks last by this measure, followed by Vermont.