Montevallo, AL – The David Mathews Center for Civic Life, University of Alabama’s New College, Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts, and the National Conference on Citizenship have released the Alabama Civic Health Index. The report reveals how Alabama residents engage in important civic activities such as voting, volunteering, and interacting with neighbors. This type of engagement is critical because it is linked to the economic and personal health of individuals and communities.
Click here to download the full 2015 Alabama Civic Health Index
Overall, the report finds Alabamians are neighborly, hospitable, and exceed national averages for activities like frequently discussing politics and registering to vote. However, Alabamians rank among the lowest when it comes to working with neighbors or community members to overcome challenges.
“This report highlights that much remains to be done to actively engage more Alabamians in working together to strengthen Alabama communities,” said David Mathews Center for Civic Life Acting Executive Director Cristin Foster. “We hope the findings in the Alabama Civic Health Index encourage Alabamians to engage in a rich conversation on civic life in the state, and to find new opportunities to work together to improve the state’s civic health.”
Compared to the 50 states and DC, Alabama ranked among the highest when it came to seeing or hearing from family and friends frequently (6th), having some or a great deal of confidence in corporations (7th), and charitable giving (16th). However, residents fared among the lowest when comparing indicators such as buying or boycotting products (43rd), attending public meetings (49th), and working with neighbors to fix or improve something in the community (51st).
“Auburn University, University of Alabama, and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life are doing critical work by promoting a conversation about civic life in Alabama,” said Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship. “This report reveals Alabama’s civic health strengths and weaknesses. Working together, I know Alabamians can leverage their strong familial and friendship networks towards greater community action and an even better civic life.”
The report data was obtained primarily from the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Surveys on Voting, Volunteering and Civic Engagement collected in partnership with the Corporation for National & Community Service. Following are additional key findings from the report:
– Urban Alabamians are more likely to vote in local elections and contact public officials, while rural Alabamians discuss politics with family and friends and exchange favors with neighbors more often.
– Trust forms an important component of any social bond, and 61.3% of Alabamians report trusting all or most of their neighbors. Nationally, only 55.8% of Americans report trusting their neighbors.
– Volunteer rates in Alabama are below the national average (24% vs 25%). This ranks Alabama 35th in the nation for volunteering.
– Alabamians age 30 and over are nearly twice as likely as 18 – 29 year olds to vote in national (67.2% vs. 40.3%) and local (67.7% vs. 38.5%) elections.
– Higher levels of education and income correlate with higher levels of almost every measure of political participation and civic involvement analyzed in the Alabama Civic Health Index.
The Alabama Civic Health Index answers questions about the state of Alabama’s civic health, but more importantly it raises questions about what we can do together to strengthen civic life in our state. We invite Alabamians to examine the data in the report and continue the conversation in their communities.