The RI Family Prosperity Report
REPORT SECTIONS: RI ranked 48th nationally in 2016! Is a new public policy and civil society approach needed?
Intro: Taillights or headlights? Do we want families coming to or leaving our state?
Click below for video interview with Dr. Wendy Warcholik, lead FPI research economist:
New national research indicates that Rhode Island families are not faring as well as lawmakers may currently believe, based on rankings in the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), which quantitatively demonstrates the link between social and economic well-being.
“What if lawmakers were to realize that our policy culture of considering only the material needs of individuals has, all along, has been harmful to the family unit,” inquired Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, who participated in a February workshop to learn more about FPI. “I believe this new research can be ground-breaking in that FPI broadens the scope of analyzing official government data to include both social and economic factors, that result from public policy on actual families in each state.”
As an example, the often cited unemployment rate, a narrow snapshot of employment only, has declined notably in Rhode Island, giving lawmakers occasion to trumpet success. However, when considering broader economic, social, and demographic data … all combined into a single index over a longer period of time… Rhode Island actually fares very poorly, ranking 48th in the nation on the FPI index for 2015. In 2014 and 2012, the Ocean State ranked dead last.
Truth in Numbers? While improving to 32nd in the 2015 unemployment rate, conversely, as part of its 48th overall FPI ranking, Rhode Island remained near the bottom in five of the six FPI sub-categories in 2016 … ranking:
- 50th in Family Health
- 46th in Family Structure
- 46th in Demographics
- 43rd in Economics
- 42nd in Family Self-Sufficiency
- 25th in Family Culture
“Do most Rhode Islanders feel as good about their family’s well-being as the unemployment rate and our politicians might suggest? I don’t think so. With FPI, we now have a measurement that can capture this, and our Center will regularly cite FPI moving forward,” continued Stenhouse. “Lawmakers can become heroes if they can construct policies that actually address the real needs of real families.”
The Center maintains that it is indeed these grassroots, family level shortcomings that are the true causes of the current economic malaise in the Ocean State, as opposed to lack of growth in elite, ‘advanced industries’ as suggested by the recent $1.3 million Brooking Institution report.