Of 2,617 counties in the United States, one in New Jersey has the distinction of being the safest place in America to raise a child, according to a first-of-its-kind ranking released by Save the Children on Tuesday.
The U.S. section of the group’s Global Childhood Report ranks Hunterdon County, NJ #1 in the country, based on four factors: per-capita deaths before age 18, per-capita teen pregnancies, food insecurity and the high school dropout rate.
The Connecticut-based relief organization has previously ranked states, but this is the first time it has broken the United States down by the county level. Hunterdon — a western New Jersey region of roughly 125,000 people that sits almost equidistant between Philadelphia and New York City — edged out York County, Virginia for the top spot.
Overall, New Jersey ranked as the safest state for kids, and had nine counties in the top 100 nationwide. Connecticut ranked fourth and New York 14th, both featuring two top-100 counties. (Click here for the full interactive map.)
But the numbers weren’t all perfect for New Jersey. The state had what the group considers a “very large” equity gap of 7 — meaning that kids in bottom-ranked Cumberland County are 7 times more likely to have their childhood cut short for some reason than kids in Hunterdon County. (That best-to-worst gap was only 2.6 in Connecticut and 4.4 in New York.)
“This report uncovers an unacceptable reality in America, where one child can be exponentially more likely than another to succeed in life based solely on the county where they grow up,” Save the Children wrote in a report titled “The Land of Inopportunity.”