South Still Trailing in Health and Poverty 145 Years after Civil War

Friday, October 14, 2011
While the South has made considerable progress in numerous areas, many of its states continue to lag behind the rest of the United States.
A new report from the Center for a Better South demonstrates how the 11-state region still has challenges when it comes to poverty, health, education and crime. Since the Civil War, Southerners have invested in better schools, roads, medical care and more, but so have other states, leaving Southern states “on lists in the spots where they don’t want to be—at the bottom,” writes Andy Brack, president of the Center for a Better South.
“In other words, we’re still playing catch-up. Some 150 years after the shots fired onto Fort Sumter in Charleston, the states of the American South still have a statistical hangover—a Civil War hangover—compared to the rest of the country,” Brack adds.
According to the report, 10 of the 13 states with the lowest annual median household income are in the South. At the very bottom is Mississippi ($37,985). Only Virginia (6th highest, $60,363) is above the national average of $49,445. Seven of the ten states with the worst poverty rates are in the South, with Mississippi again on the bottom at 22.7%.
Also, seven of the 10 worst places for kids to grow up in are in the South, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count 2011. And at least seven of the nation’s 10 worst rates of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and infant mortality are in the South.
Five of the ten states with the worst rates of violent crime, according to FBI statistics, are in the South, with Tennessee and South Carolina topping the region’s list.
Although Southerners generally pay less in state and local taxes than Americans in other regions, they also experience higher unemployment rates.
The states included in the report are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
New Report Highlights South's Civil War Hangover (by Andy Brack, Huffington Post)

2011 Briefing Book on the South (Center for a Better South) (pdf) 


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