Experts Available for Interviews on Mississippi Human Development Report
First State-level Portrait of Well-being in Struggling Gulf Region
"Our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart—not out of charity but because it is the surest route to our common good."
President Obama's inaugural words could easily have been lifted from the pages of The Measure of America, which presents the first-ever analysis of the United States for the Human Development (HD) Index, a numerical measure of well-being and opportunity made up of health, education, and income indicators. And now A Portrait of Mississippi: Mississippi Human Development Report 2009 has been released, the first-ever human development report at the state level, with data broken down by county, race and gender. The Gulf states have some of the country's lowest levels of educational attainment, income, and life expectancy, and Mississippi ranks dead last in the nation on overall human development.
“The Mississippi report explores actions needed to build an infrastructure of opportunity so that all in Mississippi can be productive citizens and reach their full potential,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, co-author of the Mississippi study and of The Measure of America. “Doing so is critical to the economic growth and future competitiveness of Mississippi in the knowledge-based global marketplace of tomorrow,” added co-author Kristen Lewis.
"This study will be an especially useful tool to Mississippi legislators, activists and individuals because it provides a real county-by-county comparison of living conditions in the state. It looks at our health, our education and our economic status, and draws important and useful conclusions,” said Derrick Johnson, who heads the Mississippi chapter of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which commissioned the report. “The report makes it clear that we cannot forge ahead while leaving so many people behind. Not only is it unjust, it is also ineffective."
According to the Mississippi report's findings:
- White Mississippians in Hinds County are at nearly the same level of human development as those in Connecticut, the top-ranked state. By contrast, African Americans living in Pike-Adams County have an HD index that corresponds to the level of the average American circa 1960.
- While the range of earnings for whites in all Mississippi county groups spans from $22,000 to $38,000, African Americans earnings range from $13,000 to $25,000. In other words, whites who are worst off in terms of income are still better off than most African Americans.
- Women in Mississippi have a higher Human Development Index than do men, despite the fact that they earn 33 percent less, because women live over five years longer, on average, and have far higher school enrollment.
- In three groups of counties (Forrest-Lamar, Lee-Pontotoc, and Alcorn-Prentiss), the infant mortality rate for nonwhites is over 18 per 1,000—nearly three times the rate of the United States overall, nearly twice the rate of Mississippi as a whole, and approximately the same infant death rates as Libya and Thailand.
- The average cost per year of keeping an inmate in prison in Mississippi in 2006 was $15,000; the average expenditure per pupil for elementary and junior high school in the state that same year was just over $7,000. Thus the state is spending twice as much per prisoner as it is on education per schoolchild.
For more Mississippi findings, download the full report (PDF: 52 pages, 3.3 MB)
A Portrait of Mississippi was commissioned by the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and funded by Oxfam America. It will be launched at a press conference in the Mississippi State Capitol Rotunda on Monday, January 26, at 3:00 pm.
The American Human Development Report, a project of the Social Science Research Council with funding from Oxfam America and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, introduces the framework of human development into the American context. Published in July 2008, The Measure of America has been recommended by the Huffington Post as necessary reading for the Obama administration and was #1 on The Globalist's book list for 2008.
For information on the first-ever human development rankings on the United States, including fact sheets and interactive maps, go to www.measureofamerica.org
Available for Interviews
The following experts are available for interviews. They can be contacted directly (see contact information below).