Friday, August 12, 2022

Parenting Pointers: Best & Worst States to Have a Baby


With the average birth costing over $3,000 for mothers with insurance, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022’s Best & Worst States to Have a Baby, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.

To determine the most ideal places in the U.S. for parents and their newborns, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 32 key measures of cost, health care accessibility and baby-friendliness. The data set ranges from hospital conventional-delivery charges to annual average infant-care costs to pediatricians per capita.  
Best States to Have a BabyWorst States to Have a Baby
1. Massachusetts42. Nevada
2. Vermont43. West Virginia
3. Minnesota44. Oklahoma
4. New Hampshire45. Arkansas
5. Rhode Island46. Florida
6. Connecticut47. Georgia
7. North Dakota48. Louisiana
8. Washington49. Mississippi
9. Iowa50. Alabama
10. Utah51. South Carolina
Best vs. Worst
  • Mississippi has the lowest average annual cost for early child care, $4,182, which is 3.8 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at $16,056.
  • Oregon has the lowest share of childbirths with low birth weight, 6.53 percent, which is 1.8 times lower than in Mississippi, the highest at 11.82 percent.
  • New Jersey has the most obstetricians and gynecologists (per 100,000 residents), 23, which is 11.5 times more than in Kansas, the fewest at 2.
  • Massachusetts has the highest parental leave policy score, 160, while 9 states, such as Alabama, Michigan and South Dakota, tie for the lowest at 0.

To view the full report and your state or the District’s rank, please visit:

More from WalletHub 
Expert Commentary
 What drives the birth rate to be in a continuing downward trend in the US?
“First, in an advanced economy like ours, birthrates tend to track economic conditions. When things are going well, young couples judge that they can afford a child (or another child). That is why the birthrate went down rather sharply when the Great Recession hit. And it is not surprising that they are low today, because inflation and COVID have left many people feeling quite uncertain about their economic futures. Second, I think we are still seeing a long-term process of change, which started in the second half of the 20th century, in which fewer and fewer Americans – and particularly women – invest their identities in full-time parenthood. Combining work and family promises a much richer life, even if the United States makes it harder to combine them successfully than our peer nations do. We are the only advanced economy in the world that does not have a national paid parental leave benefit, our childcare system is private and costly, and only about half the states guarantee paid sick leave. Absent these supports, while people still want children, they tend to have fewer, and have them later in life, compared to the past.”
Matthew Weinshenker – Chair of Sociology & Anthropology; Associate Professor, Fordham University
“So many factors. People waiting longer to get married. Women pursuing their educational and career goals first. The staggering costs of raising children. Lack of supportive national policies for parents, including paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and other income transfers.”
Aislinn Conrad – Ph.D., M.S.W. – Assistant Professor, University of Iowa
What is the biggest financial mistake that prospective parents make?
“The biggest financial mistake that prospective parents make is planning avoidance. Many families are anxious or intimidated when it comes to budgeting or financial planning with the addition of children. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, they avoid thinking about these challenges, or may they assume that things will just work out. A lot of these planning mistakes vary as a function of family income and savings. At the lower end of the economic ladder, it is important to understand that about 17% of children in the United States are now at or below the poverty line. Planning for lower-income families becomes a high-stakes proposition for accessing the support of family members and access to programs and services to offset costs. Planning is also important for families with greater income and wealth, but the focus shifts to managing cash flow for the additional costs and having a longer-term horizon for major expenses, such as a college education.”
Steven Meyers, Ph.D., ABPP – Professor and Chair of Psychology, Roosevelt University
“Leaving the workforce. According to the Center for American Progress, parents who leave the workforce to raise children may lose up to three or four times their annual salary every year they are not in the workforce, which has a significant impact on their dirtier earning capacity and retirement funds available. Also, parents who leave the workforce and try to re-enter it later experience wage discrepancies.”
Aislinn Conrad – Ph.D., M.S.W. – Assistant Professor, University of Iowa
What can local authorities do to make their cities more baby-friendly?
“Besides making policies that can stimulate child care facilities or providers, the local authorities can also regulate community service facilities and businesses to make sure baby friendly facilities are installed like in public parks, libraries, shops, and restaurants.”
Xiaohui Sophie Li, Ph.D., CFLE, AFC® – Associate Professor, Northern Illinois University
“Local authorities have many options to make cities more baby-friendly. Some are investments in the built environment, such as parks, playgrounds, and public libraries. Other investments are in local educational systems, from pre-kindergarten through high school. Early intervention programs to assist at-risk children are especially important in improving long-term outcomes. For example, some programs send a visiting nurse to do home visits for overwhelmed parents. There is a range of initiatives that assist young children with developmental disabilities to help them develop skills to avoid life-long challenges. Other programs are critical for helping families avoid food or housing insecurity. These all reflect whether children and families are a priority in terms of local-level resource allocation.”
Steven Meyers, Ph.D., ABPP – Professor and Chair of Psychology, Roosevelt University

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