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Study Rates Best, Worst Places To Raise A Family

With rampant inflation making raising children much more costly than usual, the personal-finance website WalletHub has released its report on 2023’s Best & Worst States to Raise a Family, as well as expert commentary.

To determine the best states in which to put down family roots, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 51 key indicators of family-friendliness. The data set ranges from the median annual family income to housing affordability to the unemployment rate.

Raising a Family in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

11th – Percentage of Families with Young Children

42nd – Child-Care Costs (Adjusted for Median Family Income)

2nd – Infant-Mortality Rate

45th – Median Annual Family Income (Adjusted for Cost of Living)

35th – Violent Crimes per Capita

31st – Percentage of Families in Poverty

50th – Housing Affordability

37th – Unemployment Rate

12th – Separation and Divorce Rate

13th – Percentage of Residents Aged 12+ who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

For the full report, visit:


Expert Commentary

What should families consider when choosing a place to set down roots?

“There are multiple considerations for families. Education will be a top priority – what are the public schools like, how well funded are they and what types of options do they offer? For working families, having options for afterschool care and programs will be important, too. If families have younger children they will want to know about the quality, access to, and affordability of child care and other early childhood programs. Parents will also want to know about the outdoor opportunities for their family if there are parks, summer recreation such as community-run day camps, a community pool, and what other green community spaces are available. If the family has a particular religion they may want to know about the available resources and communities that would fulfill that need. Cost is essential, is this a community that the family can afford to buy or rent a home or apartment, and will they be able to move to a bigger place if or when their family grows? Can they afford the amenities they will want such as recreation, and the necessities, such as health care and child care, that this area offers?”

Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D. – Associate Professor; Director, Barnard College Center for Toddler Development


How can authorities make their states more attractive to young families?

“States have a lot of control over childcare policy, and it has been overlooked for many years. Expanding funding to childcare subsidies for low-income families can help strengthen the entire childcare market, making childcare more available to all families. As research has demonstrated, child care is a key driver of family well-being and women’s labor force participation. Expanding access to quality child care is also one of the most impactful investments we can make in children from low-income families. Strengthening K-12 schools is important, but funding in the school system can only go so far if children are already behind by the time they reach kindergarten.”

Lauren Jones – Associate Professor, Ohio State University


To what degree are a child’s development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the state they live in? How?

“States can have powerful influences on children’s development and the quality of life for families and children. One of the clearest examples is state approaches to funding and supporting education. Starting early in life, access to high-quality affordable early childhood education has significant implications for children’s learning and social development, family well-being, and ultimately community and state economic development. States that provide higher and more equitable rates of funding across school districts can support vibrant public schools where well-qualified teachers are hired and retained, class sizes are optimal for learning, and students gain critical skills and graduate from high school ready to continue their education or gain meaningful employment. State policies and programs can also have a big impact on health. For example, providing access to affordable health insurance that includes dental care, and mental health benefits, and extending maternal health care past the post-partum period can improve the quality of life for families and communities. Finally, states can support increasing minimum wages and state-earned income and child tax credits so that working parents can afford to make ends meet in the national context of increased costs of living.”

Melissa A. Barnett, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, The University of Arizona