Utah Has the Best Ranking in the 2018 Family Prosperity Index

Posted by Dr. Wendy P. Warcholik - 2018-05-23 17:23:00

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The Family Prosperity Index (FPI) provides federal, state, and local policymakers—as well as religious and civic leaders and community-minded citizens—the roadmap needed to develop economic and social policies that improve the well-being and prosperity of American families and their communities. No other measure provides more credible and comprehensive insights into how the economy affects families, and how families affect the economy.


Unlike Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the unemployment rate, and other standard measures of economic performance, the FPI recognizes the vital, central role that families play as the engine of the American economy. Only by recognizing the central role of the family can any measure of the economy provide a complete, accurate, and useful picture of American prosperity and cultural well-being.


In the 2018 Family Prosperity Index (pdf), Utah has the top index score of 7.37. In fact, it is not an understatement to say that Utah dominates the FPI, not only ranking in the top spot but also holding commanding leads over the second-ranked state (Idaho) and the national average. Clearly, Utah is on the right track for expanding family prosperity.


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More specifically, among the six major indexes that make up the FPI, Utah takes pole position in five of them: Demographics, Family Self-Sufficiency, Family Structure, Family Culture, and Family Health. In the Economics major index, Utah ranks second behind Colorado, but it is a virtually dead heat with nearly identical scores (6.93 vs. 6.94, respectively).



Over time, between the 2012 and 2018 FPI, Utah has increased its lead by 5.2 percent from a score of 7.01 in 2012 to 7.37 in 2018. This increase was driven by four of the six major indexes:


  • Economics increased by 24 percent from 5.59 in 2012 to 6.93 in 2018.

  • Demographics increased by 5.4 percent from 8.50 in 2012 to 8.96 in 2018.

  • Family Self-Sufficiency increased by 9.6 percent from 6.77 in 2012 to 7.42 in 2018.

  • Family Structure increased by 0.5 percent from 7.76 in 2012 to 7.80 in 2018.


However, partially offsetting these increases were decreases in two of the six major indexes:


  • Family Culture decreased by 2.6 percent from 6.88 in 2012 to 6.70 in 2018.

  • Family Health decreased by 2.3 percent from 6.57 in 2012 to 6.42 in 2018.

Each of the six major indexes consist of five sub-indexes for a total of 30 sub-indexes. Utah ranks in the bottom 10 in only 2 of these sub-indexes—the property crime rate (43rd) and the divorce rate (40th). Let’s take a closer look at each of these sub-indexes to see what went wrong.


Keep in mind that the FPI uses 60 measurements, or variables, of social and economic data, and each sub-index uses at least one of these variables. If a sub-index uses two or more variables, each variable has an equal weight. Regardless of how a variable is used, it has two measures: its level (worth 80% of its value) and its 5-year average annual growth rate (worth 20%).


For the property crime rate, Utah had the 12th highest rate in the country at 2.96 percent, of the population, in 2016 (the latest year of available data). Additionally, the property crime rate has remained virtually stagnant over the last years in contrast to the national average which has steadily fallen from 2.86 percent in 2012 to 2.44 percent in 2016. Both of these factors result in Utah’s low FPI Property Crime score.



For the divorce rate, Utah had the 15th highest rate in the county at 0.36 percent, of the population, in 2015 (the latest year of available data). More problematic is that between 2014 and 2015, Utah suffered a surge in divorces moving from below the national average in 2014 (0.31 percent vs. 0.32 percent, respectively) to above the national average in 2015 (0.36 percent vs. 0.32 percent, respectively). Both of these factors result in Utah’s low FPI Divorce score.



With the Family Prosperity Index, leaders no longer have to guess which policies are better than others. Reducing Utah’s property crime rate and divorce rate would have a significant positive impact on boosting Utah’s FPI score closer to the perfect 10.00.


Finally, in our Utah FPI deep-dive analysis published in January 2017 (pdf) with our state partner The Sutherland Institute, we found that our county-level FPI analysis also raises red flags for Salt Lake County regarding several factors, including families with related children in poverty, violent crime rate, property crime rate, the level of married taxpayers, and unwed childbirth which have all moved in the wrong direction.


Given the county’s population size, there is a high likelihood that the continuation of these disturbing trends will have a negative impact on Utah’s average score and, consequently, reduce the state’s FPI ranking relative to the rest of the country.


Also, be sure to check out the preview of the 2018 Family Prosperity Index in the Deseret News! And Sutherland's excellent FPI video, "The Prosperous Design" below:



About the Author

Dr. Wendy P. Warcholik
Dr. Wendy P. Warcholik has worked as an Economist in public policy settings for nearly 20 years. She has extensive experience in applying statistical and econometric tools in public policy paradigms.