A study released earlier this week ranked Connecticut as the top state for a Human Development Index — which is just a clunky way of saying well-being. It weighs factors like life expectancy, standard of living and education and creates an index score between 1 and 10 for each state. And good old Connecticut had a higher score than any of the other states in the nation, at 6.17. The lowest? That would be Mississippi, where the index score came in at 3.81.
That’s not so great for Mississippi, but it’s still better than America on a whole a few decades ago. According to the report, the nation’s overall index score was a 1.63 in 1960, because “the average American could expect to live just under seventy years, was highly unlikely to have a bachelor’s degree (only 7.7 percent did), and had median earning of about $19,000 per year (in today’s dollars).”
Now think about that for a second, and then compare it to where Connecticut stands today. The state’s life expectancy is 80.8 years these days, and there are 20.2 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, along with another 15.3 percent who have a graduate degree. Average earnings are almost double what the nation expected back in the Wonder Years, hovering at $35,926.
Sounds pretty good right? Well, there’s a catch. While Connecticut is the number one state when both genders are ranked together, and even when men are ranked by themselves, Connecticut’s women fall a little lower on the list, at number three, behind Washington, D.C. at No. 1 and Massachusetts at No. 2. So what gives?
Well, the women in Connecticut have a longer life expectancy than the men, at 82.9 years compared to 78.6 years, women’s education attainment is a bit lower than men, with 15.1 percent of women holding a graduate degree and 19.7 percent with a bachelor’s, compared to 15.6 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, for men. And earnings? Not even close. Women in Connecticut earn a median income of $30,089, according to this study, while men take home $42,639 — that’s 70.6 cents on the dollar.
Things are marginally better in terms of equality in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. According to the study, women make $30,274 a year in Massachusetts, while men make $41,587 (that’s 72.8 cents on the dollar). In Washington, D.C., women earn $40,367, making it the highest earning state for women, while men earn $45,104 (that’s 89.5 cents on the dollar).