- Families are voting with their feet towards the Southeast, and governors in these states have already placed a rhetorical down payment on helping their respective states be more friendly to families. Tweet This
- What does it mean to be the best state in which to raise a family? Tweet This
- The best pro-family policies will expand choices for parents, allowing them to raise their children and order their lives in the way that best fits their values. Tweet This
America’s system of federalism means that the issues that most directly impact the lives of parents and families are often most appropriately dealt with at the state level. While many conversations about how to make family life more affordable and achievable in the U.S. tend to focus on the federal tax code, state policy interacts with how families live their daily lives—at school, at the workplace, and at home.
A new report, published jointly by the Institute for Family Studies and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, incorporates exclusive findings from a new YouGov poll of parents in five key states: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. We find that parents in Sun Belt states are looking for a slate of family-friendly policies that can make their lives easier without radically burdening the state’s fiscal capacities.
Decisions over land use, school funding, workforce training, and health care coverage vary widely from state to state. And many states are exploring how to orient their policy status quo in a more pro-family direction.
At a time when many states are struggling to maintain positive population growth, the five states we highlight in this report have seen population growth rates in double digits since 2010. Only nine states in the nation have more children under five today than they did a decade ago—and Texas, Florida, and Tennessee are among their number.
Our five selected states share some key similarities—they are benefitting from the U.S. population’s re-balancing towards the Sun Belt, they boast business-friendly economic climates, and they are, on the whole, politically conservative, though not uniformly so.
Families are voting with their feet towards the Southeast, and governors in these states have already placed a rhetorical down payment on helping their respective states be more friendly to families:
- “Florida must always be a great place to raise a family—we will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children.” – Gov. Ron DeSantis, Jan. 2, 2023
- “We’re not resting on our laurels…Georgia continues to be the best state to live, work, and raise a family.” – Gov. Brian Kemp, May 5, 2023
- “As long as I am Governor, we will ensure Texas remains…the best state to live, build a business, and raise a family.” – Gov. Greg Abbott, March 9, 2023
- “Our state continues to be the best place for people to live, learn, work, and raise a family. I’ve never been more excited about North Carolina’s future.”- Gov. Roy Cooper, Dec. 28, 2022
- “Tennessee is leading the nation as the best state to work, live & raise a family…I am confident that our state’s best days are ahead.” – Gov. Bill Lee, Dec. 29, 2022
And many states have proposed various policies to make it easier on parents. But what does it mean to be the best state in which to raise a family? How should policymakers weigh the different policy proposals that are being discussed? And what are parents looking for from politicians eager to have their state contend for that title?
As our new report will discuss in greater detail, authentically pro-family policy must treat the family as the most essential unit of a healthy and flourishing society. At their best, pro-family policies will expand choices for parents, allowing them to raise their children and order their lives in the way that best fits their values and preferences. Policies that ignore the importance of strong families, engaged parents, and give preference to the state or the market over the institution of the family, will fall short of their goal. But with this definition in mind, it is also important to understand how the public sees pro-family policies, and that is what this report helps to answer.
The second half of our report shows that there are some meaningful differences of opinion between parents who describe themselves as either Democrats, Republicans, or neither. But on the whole, there is a surprising level of agreement on many of the policies being polled, if a difference of degree in the level of support and how to prioritize them. Importantly, it suggests that even Republican parents are looking for a pro-family agenda that meaningfully address families’ economic and cultural concerns that make it challenging raising a family today.
Download the full IFS/EPPC policy report here.