St. Louis, MO – Six prestigious Missouri Universities and the National Conference on Citizenship released a statewide Civic Health Index report as part of a major collaboration. The report reveals how Missouri 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.
Missouri State University, St. Louis University, Washington University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Park University, and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) all contributed to the report, which reveals Missouri’s civic health to be stable, but key areas lag much of the country.
“Missouri is about average when it comes to the overall civic health of the state,” said Professor Michael Stout from Missouri State University. However, Missouri ranks far too low or near the bottom in key areas like voting, holding regular family dinners, and attending public meetings. Weakness in these areas is troubling because they are often bedrock activities for greater participation.
Compared to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Missouri ranked 42nd in holding regular family dinners, 44th in attending public meetings, and 41st in discussing politics. Surprisingly, given the state’s competitive swing state status, Missourians also ranked lower in terms of voting (29th), and contacting a public official (26th).
The report highlights a few bright spots too. Residents have above average trust in their neighbors (19th), are significantly more likely on average to talk to with a neighbor (7th), and volunteer at high rates (15th).
“While this report reveals some clear weaknesses in Missouri’s civic health, there is reason for hope,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of the National Conference on Citizenship. Our university partners are doing critical work to start a statewide conversation to strengthen civic life in Missouri.
“This report is a critical first step in addressing strengths and weaknesses in Missouri’s civic life. We can take this information and focus our efforts,” said Mike Stout. Over the coming months, we will be holding forums, talking with our friends and neighbors, and activating organizations across the state in order to strengthen civic life in Missouri.
The report data was obtained primarily from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey on Voting, Volunteering and Civic Engagement. Following are additional key findings from the report.
- Missourians have above average confidence in corporations (20th) and the media (24th), but below average confidence in public schools (31st).
- Missourians ranked 29th nationally in donations to charity. St. Louis and Kansas City residents donated much more than the state average (57% to 51%).
- Higher levels of education correlate with higher levels of almost every measure of political participation and civic involvement analyzed in the Civic Health Index.
The report also includes suggestions for reshaping the state’s civic environment. Large-scale recommendations include improving civic literacy through schools and service learning, increasing resources for volunteering, and ensuring strong voting rights.
The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a dynamic, non-partisan nonprofit—chartered by Congress in 1953—working at the forefront of the nation’s civic life. NCoC continuously explores what shapes today’s citizenry, defines the evolving role of the individual in our democracy, and uncovers ways to motivate greater participation. Through events, research and reports, NCoC expands its nation’s contemporary understanding of what it means to be a citizen. NCoC seeks new ideas and approaches for creating greater civic health and vitality throughout the United States.