With the elections behind us, we can now refocus on two of America’s most pressing challenges: restoring our economy and improving the health and well-being of our children.
Some may not see the connection between these issues. However, speaking jointly as the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated exclusively to health and health care, and as the former research director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, we see this link clearly.
We cannot achieve significant economic growth without investing in the development of our children. Among 34 major countries, the United States ranks 14th on literacy and 25th on mathematics. And, for the first time, we are raising a generation of children who may live shorter, sicker and less productive lives than their parents. Nearly half of children born into poverty will remain poor throughout childhood. Nearly one-third of poor children will remain impoverished into adulthood.
The disparities in health and education among America’s children are striking, and Minnesota is no exception. In Carver County, approximately 6 percent of children live in poverty and 80 percent graduate from high school. But just an hour’s drive away, in Ramsey County, 25 percent of children live in poverty and just 67 percent graduate from high school.