2018 Social Progress Index: US States

In Brief

The American ideal

The 2018 Social Progress Index: US States shows the growing economy is not working for millions of Americans who face stagnant or declining living standards. Each state is evaluated on how well it provides its people with the things they really care about, including health, safety, shelter, education, rights and freedom.

Leaders and laggards

Massachusetts is the top-ranked state in the union, and Mississippi falls to the bottom. None of the five largest state economies (California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas) are in the top ten states on social progress.

Income isn't everything

Wisconsin and Texas have similar Median Household Incomes but perform very differently on the Social Progress Index (Wisconsin ranks 6, Texas ranks 42), suggesting that many factors besides income can affect a state’s quality of life.

Assessing the Impact

“The country is not living up to its potential. Too many Americans still live with limited educational opportunity, poor health and housing, and violence persists in our schools and streets.”

“During a time when trust is in free fall, the Social Progress Index can be a tool for government, business, and civil society to regain that trust and make a compelling case for rebuilding the institutions that matter most to citizens, communities, and our country.”

“The United States’ failure to improve quality of life for its people has far-reaching effects. We see it in a 20-year decline in competitiveness; rising discontent and a sense of unequal opportunity; divisive politics, as citizens turn on fellow citizens; and declining participation and trust in democracy.”


The state-level index organizes 53 social and environmental outcome-based indicators into 12 components, which are grouped into three dimensions. In addition to priorities like access to medical care and education, the framework includes several hallmarks of an open, just society that many other indexes simply leave out, like Personal Rights, Inclusiveness, and Personal Freedom and Choice.

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