About prosperity in the U.S.
The U.S. Prosperity Index is the first comprehensive assessment of all aspects of prosperity across America, allowing comparison between the different states and regions. It measures the extent to which all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. have open economies, inclusive societies and empowered people.
The research shows that Washington, D.C. saw the greatest increase in prosperity in the last decade, followed by California and South Carolina. Only four states – Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota and South Dakota – saw a decline in prosperity. Improvements in health, education and living conditions all contributed to the increase in prosperity. In addition, the majority of states have enhanced the quality of their economy as they have recovered from the financial crisis. While Mississippi is the least prosperous state, its prosperity has improved more than that of top-ranked Massachusetts in the last 10 years.
The USPI demonstrates that prosperity is not evenly spread across the U.S. Those living in the Northeast region are still significantly more prosperous than those in the Southwest or Southeast. Five of the top 10 states are located in the Northeast, while nine of the bottom 10 are in the South.
This North-South divide is particularly concerning in the domain of inclusive societies, which captures the institutional aspect of prosperity and includes elements such as levels of crime, the rule of law, political accountability, discrimination and social tolerance. The data suggests that a lack of strong institutions means that, in many parts of the country, economic policies have increased wealth-generation, but this has not translated into better health, education and living conditions.