March 14, 2003
THE SOCIAL STATE OF CONNECTICUT INDEX
By: Lawrence K. Furbish, Director
You asked for background on the Social State of Connecticut, a publication produced by the Fordham Institute for Innovation in Social Policy.
The Social State of Connecticut has been published annually since 1994. It is an analysis of the social health of the state as measured by statistics tracking 11 indicators covering the areas of health, employment, income, education, security, and psychological well-being. The indicators are grouped in four dimensions. The dimensions and indicators are as follows:
High School Dropouts
Average Weekly Wages
Health Care Costs
The indicators are the same for all of the reports. According to the report's authors, the “performance of each [indicator] reflects the relative strength of social institutions, such as the community, school, and family.” The institute bases the indicators on data culled from existing state and national reports such as the Department of Public Health's annual registration report of births and marriages and the Department of Public Safety's Uniform Crime Reports, and from routinely collected but unpublished state agency data, such as the dropout rates by grade, which are collected by the Department of Education.
The first Social State of Connecticut report was done and paid for at the initiative of the Connecticut Commission on Children and the Graustein Memorial Fund in New Haven. These two groups have continued to support it. In 1997, three years after the first report appeared, the General Assembly enacted a law directing the Commission on Children to “develop, within available appropriations, an annual social health index report for the State of Connecticut to monitor the social health of its citizens and assist the state in analyzing and publicizing social health issues and in evaluating the state's progress in addressing these issues” (CGS § 46a-131a). The law also allowed the Commission to accept and use grants, contributions, or donations for the index.
At that time the Children's Commission and the Graustein Fund each contributed $25,000 toward the cost of the report. Since then money for the report has appeared as a line item in the state budget. According to Spencer Cain, a chief budget analyst in the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the line item had most recently been $30,000, but the General Assembly eliminated the item in the last budget revision (PA 03-2).
We have attempted to contact the author of the report to ask about why statistics on gambling are not included. Thus far we have been unsuccessful. If we are able to talk with him, we will pass any information along. We would hypothesize that there are several reasons gambling is not included. First, although some statistics on gambling and problem gamblers do exist, they are not collected routinely and they do not have the established track record of the other statistics included in the report such as average wages, infant mortality, and violent crime. Second, gambling's visibility as a social problem is relatively recent, compared with such things as unemployment, child abuse, and school dropouts.