May 3, 2018 - The Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) today released the 2017JustSouth Index revealing that states in the U.S. Gulf South all fall near the bottom of the index on measures of social justice.
The JustSouth Index measures and compares states’ performance on nine quantitative indicators that fall under the dimensions of poverty, racial disparity and immigrant exclusion—three of the most challenging issues facing the Gulf South today.
JSRI officially released the updated JustSouth Index report and interactive website during a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 3, 2018, sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA 2nd District). The full report and an interactive map showing results for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., can be found on JSRI's website.
According to the report, the five Gulf South states ranked especially low, with Louisiana lowest at 51st, Texas at 49th, Alabama at 47th, Mississippi at 46th and Florida slightly higher in 35th. Vermont ranked highest in the nation.
“The JustSouth Index serves as a measure of social justice examining key dimensions that must be addressed to improve lives and enhance human dignity,” said Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ, J.D., executive director of JSRI. “Our purposes, rooted deeply in the Scriptures and Catholic social justice traditions, are to educate the people of this region and to point out how we together can make the kind of changes that promote far greater social justice, equity and inclusion for all of us who live here.”
The JustSouth Index, made possible by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, establishes a measure of social justice and provides policymakers, employers and residents with a better understanding of how residents of the Gulf South are faring with regard to basic human rights and needs.
“Striving for a socially just society requires critical analyses of the structures of our society to determine if they perpetuate inequity or enhance justice,” JSRI said in the study. “By measuring and comparing all 50 states and Washington D.C. on nine social justice-related indicators, the JustSouth Index provides a strong starting point for determining not only where inequity is most problematic, but also what systemic factors contribute to the inequity.”
The Just South Index examines nine social indicators that cut across the three key measures that address fundamental concerns of human development: health, education and income. The holistic investigation is not simply an economic report—it also provides a roadmap for changing the social environment.
Key findings for the Gulf South include:
Recommendations for improving social justice and equity in the Gulf South include:
Alí R. Bustamante, Ph.D., JSRI economic policy specialist and principal investigator on the report, stated that local and state governments, as well as nonprofits and employers, have the ability to improve social justice for individuals and families in the Gulf South.
“The JustSouth Index finds that states in the Gulf South continue to rank low in the social justice dimensions of poverty, racial disparity and immigrant exclusion. However, positive societal change is possible when we identify and overcome the systemic factors that contribute to inequity,” Bustamante said. “Inclusive economic and social progress is possible if we focus on equity and justice. The Gulf South states are no exception.”
JSRI is a collaboration between the USA Central and Southern Province and Loyola University New Orleans. Based at the university, JSRI seeks to educate and advocate on issues of race, poverty and migration.