The USPI is a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of prosperity across the 50 states of the Union plus Washington, D.C.  The 2020 report marks the second publication of the State-level Index and the inaugural publication of a County-level Index for eight selected states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas, covering 829 counties. Both Indexes measure performance across 11 pillars of prosperity, using more than 200 indicators grouped into 48 policy-focused elements, and are designed to be transformational tools that can guide and direct state and county decision makers.  The Index with its state prosperity rankings, and in-depth state profiles, can be read online at

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, prosperity in the U.S. had been rising for a decade and was at its highest ever level.  In fact, “social capital” is the only pillar of prosperity not to have improved. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, prosperity in the U.S. had been rising for a decade and was at its highest ever level. However, prosperity was not universally shared across the country, with northern states outperforming those in the south, and further disparities within states at a county level. The improvement in prosperity was due to more open economies, driven by economic quality strengthening as states became more productive and competitive, with increased workforce engagement, and state governments’ financial reserves increasing, although this improvement is now at risk. Education and people’s living conditions had also improved over the last 10 years, but physical and mental health had been declining even before the coronavirus crisis. While personal freedom and governance had strengthened across the country, there had been a significant decline in social capital, a warning sign for future prosperity.

Shaun Flanagan, the Director of the Centre for Metrics at the Legatum Institute, explores why America chronically underperforms in areas such as safety and security, health, and living conditions despite its extraordinary national wealth—and he argues for a more holistic view of prosperity and locally-driven policies to guide America’s post-COVID recovery.  Ultimately, America is wealthy, but weakening social capital and institutions are undermining U.S. prosperity.  Consciously investing to improve social capital and local U.S. institutions will be crucial to recovery in the post-COVID world.


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