The Blackest States Are The "Worst States to Have a Baby"

Recently released list of "Best & Worst States To Have a Baby" won't highlight the racial, socio-economic dimensions

Publisher’s Riff

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Financial services research firm WalletHub recently released its 2019 report on “Best & Worst States To Have a Baby.” In keeping with its very data-intensive, no-nonsense, no-commentary approach, WalletHub presents this data as clinically and innocuously as possible. In doing so, the report won’t tackle much more weighty or controversial topics such as the racial or socio-economic indicators that are a common and very glaring characteristic of these states. Here’s the main list at first glance, including the primary 50 plus 1 (the District of Columbia) states:

What we do notice off the top is that this is a very significant, yet overlooked report. The governors and policymakers of states that find themselves at the bottom of the list should review it with a mix of embarrassment and serious worry. How can a state achieve a higher standard of living or even begin thinking about future social, educational or economic progress or growth if its greatest resource - people - face increasingly dire prospects from birth?

The Role of Race At The Bottom 11

The “Worst States” or bottom 11 states - #40 - #51 - are of particular interest.

The majority of these states hold the highest concentrations of statewide Black residents in the United States, according to Census estimates. Most of them are concentrated in the South. Indeed, 8 out of 10 of these states, 80 percent, contain Black populations that represent 15 percent or more of the state’s population share. Here is a quick list of those Black population totals in the bottom 11 states:

  • North Carolina - 24%

  • New Mexico - 3%

  • West Virginia - 5%

  • Florida - 18%

  • Nevada - 12%

  • Arkansas - 17%

  • Georgia - 34%

  • Oklahoma - 9%

  • Louisiana - 34%

  • South Carolina - 28%

  • Alabama - 28%

  • Mississippi - 39%

Nearly 6 out of 10, or 60 percent, of these states have Black population shares that are about a quarter or more of the entire population (including North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi). The majority of the bottom 6 states, or 83 percent of the 6 Worst States in the nation to have a baby, are states with massive Black population totals. These are the largest non-White populations in these major states. Hence, there is a rather dangerous correlation between infant health and mortality and the Black demographic composition of a state.

Poverty Rates & White Populations

These states also contain the highest or above-average poverty rates in the United States (reference Kaiser Family Foundation mapping) …

States that are at the top of the WalletHub list, or the states that are the Best Places to Have a Baby, share a common thread of low, below-average poverty rates - these are also places where the White population totals are very high. Here are also White population totals for the Top 11 states:

  • Vermont - 94%

  • Massachusetts - 81%

  • North Dakota - 87%

  • Rhode Island - 84%

  • Minnesota - 84%

  • New Hampshire - 93%

  • Washington - 79%

  • Colorado - 87%

  • Connecticut - 80%

  • Utah - 91%

  • Oregon - 87%

Nearly 91 percent of the states in the Top 11 best places to have a baby, or 10 out of 11, are places with White population totals no less than 80 percent.

Black Unemployment Rates

The majority of states at the Bottom 11 are also places where Black unemployment rates are either higher and in some cases more than double the national unemployment rate currently at 3.7 percent.

Here are known Black unemployment rates by state, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s recent report on the topic …

  • North Carolina - 6.9%

  • New Mexico - n/a

  • West Virginia - n/a

  • Florida - 5.1%

  • Nevada - n/a

  • Arkansas - 7.6%

  • Georgia - 5.7%

  • Oklahoma - n/a

  • Louisiana - 8%

  • South Carolina - 5.2%

  • Alabama - 7.1%

  • Mississippi - 7.7%

Infant Mortality & Fewer OB-GYNs

Additionally, the majority of states with high infant mortality rates and fewer OB-GYNs or midwife professionals available for delivery are also places with the highest Black population totals noted earlier …

There are rather troubling correlations suggesting that a higher Black population share in a state determines whether or not adequate medical care is provided to newborns. This will become more urgent as non-White population becomes the majority of those newborn and under the age of 18. That trend is already here, see more at Brookings

United States ethnic profiles, 2018 and 2060