by Frank de Libero, PhD - DTI, Inc.
Frank de Libero, Principal in Data2Information, Inc., provided the data analysis and consultation on the measures in the Healthiest State Report Card. The first of two guest postings, this one introduces four charts of interest. The second, next week, will go into these charts in more detail.
One of the measures in our Healthiest State Report Card was economic well-being. In fact, you could argue that underlying most of the 17 measures -- and the entire report -- is economic well-being. Statistically, the single most important dimension of our economic well-being measure is the percent child poverty by state. There is considerable literature on the importance for later life of childhood health and well being, including popular literature ("The Poverty Clinic" by Paul Tough, The New Yorker, March 21, 2011; "Origins" by Annie Murphy Paul, Free Press, 2010) as well as truisms such as Nelson Mandela's that a society's soul is revealed by the way in which it treats its children. That child poverty as a metric is statistically important makes sense.
All four charts are available here, and they show percent child poverty by state versus four outcomes. The outcomes are related to the general dimensions of mortality, education, general health and chronic disease. The data sources, all accessible via the web, are the CDC, Census Bureau, and the National Center for Educational Statistics. The data used are the most current available. (National mortality and morbidity data, e.g., usually lag by two-three years.) The numbers shown on the axes are minimums, means and maximums. The ordinary least squares regression lines are all highly significant, so there is a strong association between the coincident child poverty and the four outcomes. The child poverty measure, left to right, goes from better to worse. High school graduation rates are a declining function of child poverty (i.e., as percent of child poverty increases, on average high school graduation rates decline, which is what the literature indicates, only in this case it is not predictive but coincident). The three other outcomes get worse on average (increase) as child poverty increases. Our state is indicated in each chart.
The take-away is there is a strong association between coincident child poverty rates and the four outcomes by state. Next week we will explore the charts in more detail.