While it came in 15th overall, Maine trailed all of its New England peers in a recent prosperity index study that examined such factors as the business environment, governance and living conditions.
The Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank organization, recently took the wraps off a United States Prosperity Index study. The 122-page report assesses the development, growth and full extent of prosperity across all 50 states, in addition to Washington, D.C.
In an opening forward to the report, Stephen Brien, director of policy with the Legatum Institute, outlined the guiding concepts behind the organization’s analysis.
“Prosperity entails much more than wealth,” Brien wrote. “It reaches beyond the financial into the political, the judicial, the well-being and character of a nation. It is about creating an environment where people are able to reach their full potential.”
In the report, Brien and other researchers within the Legatum Institute said the analysis looked at a range of data under three overarching categories: open economies, inclusive societies and empowered people.
As a region, New England was a top-performer in the U.S. Prosperity Index report. Massachusetts and Connecticut achieved the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively.
Also ranking in the single-digits were New Hampshire (No. 4) and Vermont (No. 6). Rhode Island, meanwhile, was No. 14.
Maine, at No. 15, was singled out in the report as a specific case study. The state scored near the bottom in a specific metric, market access and infrastructure, besting only Alaska in the specific line item. The state also was dinged in the category of economic quality, notching a No. 42 position.
On the other end of the spectrum, Maine scored top marks in such metrics as safety and security, where it came in at No. 1. The state also out-performed most others across the country in such categories as natural environment (No. 8) and social capital (No. 9).
Legatum Institute’s researchers noted Maine “shares many of the region’s strengths, such as strong safety and security, high educational attainment, personal freedom and a healthy natural environment.”
But the organization’s researchers also outlined why Maine was a bottom-performer in some of the metrics of the study.
“There are a number of areas that could be improved, most notable in terms of its economic openness,” the researchers wrote. “For example, slow mean download speeds and insufficient physical infrastructure results in Maine ranking 50th in the country for its market access and infrastructure, bucking the national pattern.”
Elsewhere in New England, results in the market access and infrastructure category were mixed. Connecticut ranked No. 7 across the U.S., followed by Massachusetts at No. 14, Rhode Island at No. 22, New Hampshire at No. 29 and Vermont at No. 37.
Overall, the bottom five states in the U.S. Prosperity Index were Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana and, at No. 51, Mississippi.
In multiple areas of the report, researchers noted there was no silver bullet in a particular state that demonstrated outright prosperity, as defined by the Legatum Institute.
“While some states clearly outperform others on prosperity, no single state has yet succeeded in fully securing both economic and social well being for its population,” the researchers wrote. “Opportunities exist for states to learn from each other.”