As partisanship continues its upward swing, reliable data can serve as the catalyst to galvanize those of different political opinions to work together to address South Carolina’s areas of need.

As President-elect Ronald Reagan prepared to enter the office of President of the United States in 1980, he relied on a unique resource to shape his agenda – the Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Leadership. In the 1,100-page document, Heritage experts provided a roadmap of policy suggestions – all bolstered by data and research – intended to guided America back to the path of prosperity. Of Reagan’s commitment to the recommendations, William F. Buckley said, “Sixty percent of the suggestions enjoined on the new president were acted upon (which is why Mr. Reagan’s tenure was 60 percent successful.)”

Mandate for Leadership, however, stands as just one of the many research briefs and publications to have had deep, long-lasting influence on our nation’s lawmakers.

In the year Palmetto Family was founded (1994), former Reagan-Bush administration official William J. Bennett published the first edition of his Index of Leading Cultural Indicators (ILCI). Bennett developed ILCI because he felt social and cultural trends should be monitored carefully just like fiscal trends were being tracked in the Index of Leading Economic Indicators.

And so began an important trend of state-based policy organizations – think tanks, if you will – producing Cultural Indicators for individual states. All the while, these think tanks with similar missions to Palmetto Family began to take their rightful place at the decision table.

South Carolina’s first Cultural Indicators was published in 2011. By simply revealing data and trends, the Cultural Indicators 2011 cut through political divisions and nurtured important discussions about how to steer the Palmetto State in a more family-friendly direction.

A lot has changed since 2011. South Carolina and our nation stare across the aisle more polarized than ever before. Rare is the bi-partisan victory. Almost as rare is an unbiased, valuable policy discussion.

This toxic political environment confirmed the vital need for data – concrete, comprehensive, apolitical data – on the important trends in the Palmetto State. As partisanship continues its upward swing, reliable data can serve as the catalyst to galvanize those of different political opinions to work together to address South Carolina’s areas of need.

Which is why Palmetto Family is proud to introduce South Carolina Cultural Indicators 2019.

Containing 38 trends in population, crime, health, education, dependence and culture, Cultural Indicators 2019 will empower stakeholders by identifying the issues negatively affecting South Carolinians and embolden them to unite in an effort to make South Carolina a better place to live and raise a family.

The findings include:

  • Since 1960, the percentage of female-headed households in both the U.S. and South Carolina increased by 93% and 130%, respectively, while the percentage of households headed by a single male increased 163% nationally and 230% in South Carolina.
  • Since 1990, South Carolina’s crime rate has averaged about 27% above the national average.
  • From 1999 to 2016, the national suicide rate rose 29%. By comparison, South Carolina’s overall suicide rate rose 54%.
  • Since 1997, about 14,100 couples have divorced each year in South Carolina, splitting the homes of about 11,200 children annually.
  • In 2017, the typical South Carolina household earned $62,432, while the typical American household earned $73,891.

“Strong families are the foundation of a strong South Carolina,” said Joshua Putnam, President of Palmetto Family. “Armed with the findings in the Cultural Indicators 2019, lawmakers, parents, young adults and every stakeholder should encourage the development of strong-knit families in the Palmetto State.”

If South Carolina is going to become a place where its citizens can thrive and flourish, we must overcome these issues. Though it won’t happen immediately, we must work together in an effort to make the Palmetto State better for future generations.

It all starts with honestly discussing our state’s problems.

Positive policy discussions can be had once more, but we must first lay the foundation of evidence and data from which to build. South Carolina Cultural Indicators 2019 serves as that foundation.

Now, let’s get to fixing.

Briley Hughes

Communications Director

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