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2019 Quality of Life in Hawai'i Report

The Research and Economic Analysis Division of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) released a new report Quality of Life in Hawaii: 2019 Update. This report is an update from their 2009 report, and examines quality of life across six broad domains: economic, education, environment, health, housing & transportation, and social. Each domain has four dimensions and there are at least two indicators per dimension; for example, education is sub-divided into attainment, performance, readiness, and participation in higher education and there are 10 indicators presented. There are 69 indicators in total and the report includes state and county data, compares Hawaii to itself over time, and to the nation as whole. User-friendly symbols help the reader to see how we are doing as a state.

Here are some highlights from the 2019 report which was released in May:

  • The overall quality of life in HI has improved since the 2009 report, but the economic, housing and transportation and social domains have gotten worse. The overall improvement is attributed to the improvements in education and health.
  • Economic indicators have gotten worse since 2009. While per capita income and median earnings have increased, poverty rate and income inequality have swelled. Hawai‘i County regularly had the highest poverty rate among the counties, exceeding the national poverty rate.
  • Education indicators have improved and are higher than the US. A higher percentage of people have received high school and college degrees, more students are meeting standard in math and reading and more students are graduating from high school on-time. T Honolulu County had the lowest percentage of people with a high school degree, but the highest percentage of people with at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Environment indicators have improved. Hawaii has fewer toxic releases but more unhealthy air quality days compared to the nation due to volcanic activity.
  • Health indicators have improved; however, while life expectancy has improved, health status has declined. Hawaii has a higher percentage of adults who binge drink and lower percentage of children who are fully immunized compared to the nation.
  • Housing & Transportation indicators have gotten worse since 2009. Hawaii housing was rated worse than the nation for all the indicators in the affordable housing and unmet housing needs section. Hawaii had a lower percentage of workers who drove alone to work (67.1%) compared to the nation (76.4%), but are more likely to travel an hour or more to get to work (10.1% and 8.9%, respectively).
  • Social indicators have declined since 2009. Hawaii is generally better than the nation in terms of public safety and family relationships, but does worse in community connectedness and social participation. Hawaii had lower rates of violent crime; accidents, homicides, and suicide death rates; and drug related arrests compared to the nation.

The Quality of Life in Hawaii: 2019 Update by DBEDT is this month’s featured content on Hawaii Health Matters.

Updated: 08/14/2020