United States Prosperity Index 2020

Our updated and expanded United States Prosperity Index reveals that, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, prosperity in the U.S. had been rising for a decade and was at its highest ever level.

A report for the American Dream Prosperity Index programme

Published 14 Jul 2020

The 2020 U.S. Prosperity Index measures prosperity at a state and county level.

Genuine prosperity is about far more than a society’s economy or an individual’s financial wealth; it represents an environment in which everybody is able to reach their full potential. A nation is prosperous when it has effective institutions, an open economy, and empowered people who are healthy and educated.

The United States is one of the world’s economic powerhouses. It is open, with strong infrastructure and competitive markets in which individuals and businesses have easy access to finance, and its productive capacity is higher than almost all similar countries. In the main, its institutions are robust, its education system is one of the best in the world, and the majority of citizens feel connected to each other and engaged in society. However, the U.S. under-performs in areas such as safety and security, health, and living conditions. As a result, the country is ranked just 18th out of 167 countries in the Legatum Prosperity IndexTM, and has not advanced in the rankings for the last decade.

In 2019, with the generous support of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, we published the inaugural United States Prosperity Index, seeking to explore why the country’s undeniable economic success was not translating fully into social wellbeing. This year’s report, with additional support from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and The Walton Family Foundation, presents an update on the prosperity of the 50 states and Washington D.C., as well as providing a brand-new, in-depth analysis of prosperity across 829 counties in eight selected states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas).

These Indexes have been purposefully designed to be transformational tools, that compliment each other. The comprehensive set of indicators provides a rich and policy-focused dataset, allowing the potential of all states (and all counties in the selected states) to be identified and understood. This enables much more targeted policy responses that can drive tangible improvements in prosperity. Our ambition is that national, state, and local governments, business leaders, investors, philanthropists, and civil society leaders across the U.S. will use the Index to help set their agendas for growth and development, and that others will use it to hold them to account.


  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, prosperity in the U.S. had been rising for a decade and was at its highest ever level, with all states apart from Alaska, and all but 16 counties in the 8 selected states improving.

  • Prosperity was not universally shared across the U.S, with Northern states outperforming those in the South, and further disparities existing within states at a county level. Eight of the ten weakest performing states are in the South.

  • The Inclusive Societies domain improved, due to Governance strengthening. While Personal and Family relationships improved over the past decade, Social Networks, Institutional Trust, and Civic and Social Participation all deteriorated, leading to an overall decline in Social Capital.

  • The domain in which the U.S. saw the biggest improvement over the last decade was Open Economies. This was due to Economic Quality strengthening, as states became more productive and competitive, with increased workforce engagement and state Governments’ financial reserves increasing.

  • The U.S. also saw a significant improvement in the Empowered People domain over the last decade, due to Living Conditions, Health, Education, and Natural Environment all improving, although mental health has declined over the last year.

To find out more, download the report, and view the full rankings, visit the United States Prosperity Index website: usprosperity.net


United States Prosperity Index 2020:

The 2020 U.S. Prosperity Index measures prosperity at a state and county level.

Jul 2020

Download the reportPDF