Tennessee ranks 39th in overall prosperity according to the American Dream Prosperity Index (ADPI), released by the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream in partnership with Legatum Institute. The United States continues to see a rise in prosperity, even as we faced the long-term impacts of a pandemic and the economic realities of rising inflation and a shrinking economy. But while the overall trend points to a prosperous nation, prosperity continues to be unequally distributed regionally, often eluding rural communities and Black Americans.
Prosperity is a multidimensional concept which the American Dream Prosperity Index seeks to measure, explore, and understand. The framework of the Index captures prosperity through three equally-weighted domains which are the essential foundations of prosperity — Inclusive Societies, Open Economies, and Empowered People. These domains are made up of 11 pillars of prosperity, built upon 49 actionable policy areas, and are underpinned by more than 200 reliable indicators.
Tennessee’s strengths include ranking 18th in governance, 19th in economic quality and 23rd in business environment. According to the Index, Tennessee’s areas for improvement include health (ranked 44th), living conditions (ranked 43rd), safety and security (ranked 43rd), education (ranked 34th), and personal freedom (ranked 32nd). Since 2012, the state has improved the most in economic quality, education and natural environment.
“While our nation faces many challenges including record inflation, increased gun violence, and a deteriorating mental health landscape, we are encouraged by the resiliency of communities across our country as they work to create prosperous lives for their residents,” said the Center’s President Kerry Healey. “The American Dream Prosperity Index was founded on the principle that better data leads to better decisions and outcomes. It is our goal to make this report one of the most important tools for local, state and federal lawmakers and civic leaders.”
“We are encouraged by the steady rebound of prosperity post-pandemic, even in the face of unique regional challenges,” said Legatum Institute CEO Philippa Stroud. “The foundations of the U.S. economy continue to stand strong, particularly due to the innovative entrepreneurial mindset that Americans are known for. This forward momentum highlights the genuine push towards prosperity in the face of continued adversity.”
Across the country, millions of Americans are facing challenges that continue to threaten prosperity. According to the 2022 ADPI, since 2012, all states apart from North Dakota have increased their prosperity, but prosperity remains unequally shared across and within states. For most people, 2022 has been a year of progress as the nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and as the economy strengthens. However, this increase in prosperity is tempered by rising gun violence in nearly every state. Also detrimental to the nation’s prosperity is the deteriorating mental health of America, marked by a rise in suicides and opioid-related deaths, even as Americans’ overall health continues to improve.