Mississippi ranks low in nation for child well being, county slightly better

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Mississippi ranks 49 in the country for child well being, according to the 2020 Kids Count Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on Monday.

In the annual report’s introduction, it notes that the data reflects information on child well being collected prior to the pandemic.

Economic Well Being

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

For economic well being, Mississippi ranked 47 in the country, according to the data book.
There have been statewide improvements in children’s economic well being from 2010 to 2018.

In Mississippi 28 percent of children lived in poverty in 2018, down from 33 percent in 2010. According to the Kids Count Data Center, in the Pearl River County School District 18.1 percent of children lived in families below the U.S. poverty threshold, down from 24 percent in 2010. In the Picayune School District 32.2 percent of children lived in families below the threshold in 2018, compared to 29 percent in 2010. The Poplarville School District saw a decrease to 19.7 percent in 2018, compared to 29.5 percent in 2010.

The number of children in Mississippi with parents who lack secure employment was down to 33 percent in 2018, compared to 39 percent in 2010. Only 27 percent of children in the state lived in households with a high housing cost burden in 2018, down from 35 percent in 2010. The percentage of teens not in school and not working decreased to 10 percent in 2018, compared to 13 percent in 2010.


Mississippi ranked higher in education than any other category, at 39 in the nation. In 2019, the state was ranked 44 in education.

The percentage of children ages 3 and 4 who are not in school increased in Mississippi to 48 percent between 2016-2018. That is compared to 47 percent from 2009-2011. In Pearl River County an estimated 44.7 percent of 3 and 4-year-old children were enrolled in nursery or preschool from 2014-2018, less than the 51.7 percent enrolled statewide in the same timeframe, according to the data center.

Fourth grade reading proficiency and eighth grade math proficiency appear to have improved. In 2019, 68 percent of Mississippi fourth graders were not proficient in reading, down from 78 percent in 2009. The percentage of eighth graders not proficient in math also decreased from 85 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2019.

Fewer high school students are not graduating on time, according to the report. In the 2017 to 2018 school year only 16 percent of high school students did not graduate on time statewide compared to 25 percent in the 2010 to 2011 school year.


Mississippi ranked 50 in the nation for health in the 2020 Data Book.

Child and teen deaths increased from 38 per 100,000 in 2010 to 42 per 100,000 in 2018. The percentage of children and teens who are overweight or obese also saw a slight increase to 40 percent from 2017-2018, up from 39 percent from 2016-2017.

The percentage of low birth weight babies remained consistent at 12.1 percent in 2018, the same percentage as in 2010. There were 4,848 low birth weight babies in Mississippi, according to the Data Book. In Pearl River County the percentage of low birth weight babies increased from 6.8 percent in 2010 to 9.9 percent in 2018, according to the data center.

A category where Mississippi saw improvement was health insurance. Only 5 percent of children in the state did not have health insurance in 2018, compared to 9 percent in 2010.

Family and Community

Mississippi also ranked 50 in family and community, but the state saw improvement compared to previous years in each of the four categories the Data Book examines.

The percentage of children in single parent families decreased to 44 percent in 2018 from 46 percent in 2010. Fewer children are living in families where the head of house lacks a high school diploma, with 12 percent in 2018 compared to 17 percent in 2010. A lower percentage, 23 percent, of children were living in high poverty areas from 2014-2018, compared to 28 percent from 2008-2012.

The number of teen births per 1,000 decreased from 55 in 2010 to 28 in 2018. In Pearl River County the rate of teen births also decreased from 53 per 1,000 in 2010 to 27 per 1,000 in 2018, according to the data center. There were 48 teen births in this county in 2018, compared to 108 in 2010.