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Indicators of child well-being improve in U.S., study says.

[06.18.04] — The U.S. has improved in eight of 10 indicators of child well-being, reflecting economic growth and expansion of public programs, although nearly one in six young adults ages 18 to 24 is not working, has no degree beyond high school and is not enrolled in school, a new report says.

North Carolina improved from 1996 to 2001 in six of the 10 indicators, but still fell to 41st from 39th among all states in the national Kids Count 2004 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore.

Indicators on which North Carolina improved include infant mortality, the child death rate, teen deaths, teen births, the teen high-school dropout rate and the percentage of children in poverty.

Indicators on which North Carolina slipped include the percentage of low-birth-weight babies, teens not in school and not working, children whose parents have no full-time job, and families headed by a single parent.

North Carolina trailed the national average for nine of 10 indicators, and equaled the national average in child death rate.

Throughout the U.S., child well-being improved for all indicators but low birth-weight babies, which grew to 7.7 percent in 2001 from 7.4 percent in 1996, and the percentage of families with children headed by a single parent, which grew to 28 percent in 2001 from 27 percent in 1996.

The study, available online at aecf.org, can be searched by state and shows state rankings for each indicator.

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