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Miami-Area Congressional District is the Most Suffering in America

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Gallup-Healthway's annual "Well Being Index" takes a wide-ranging reading of physical, emotional, and mental health of political districts on the state, metropolitan and congressional levels. The just-published statistics for 2010 don't give such a healthy diagnosis to Florida or the Miami metropolitan area, but perhaps most worrying is the fact that the Miami-area 17th congressional district comes in dead last in the survey's "Life Evaluation" sub-index and is the third-most miserable congressional district overall.

Statistics for the Well-Being Index are gathered by polling 1,000 Americans every day of the year save for holidays and asks them to evaluate their lives on a wide-ranging group of factors. The index is further sub-divided to take into account life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access to services related to health. You should read a more detailed description of the methodology here.

The life evaluation sub-index is calculated by asking respondents to rate their current life situation on a scale of 0-10 and then asking them to rate how they anticipate their lives will be in five years on the same scale. Results are classified as either "suffering," "struggling," or "thriving." This is the index in which Florida's 17th district came dead last in for the entire country (including all 465 voting districts and Washington D.C.'s non-voting district).

When all the sub-indexes were combined, the district came in as the third most miserable overall. It scored in the bottom quintile in all areas except for physical health.

The 17th district includes portions of inner-city Miami (including Liberty City), Carol City, North Miami and stretches into southern Broward. It's currently represented by Rep. Frederica Wilson, but during the time the surveys were taken, by Rep. Kendrick Meek. One of the follies of conducting this survey by congressional district is that it causes some to place blame on the Representative. Though city, county, and state politicians, as well as local business and community leaders, have much more power over the area's well-being. It should also be noted that the 17th was intentionally drawn as an African-American majority district. 55 percent of residents are black.

Overall Florida ranked 37th on the state level, while the Miami area came in 129th out of 188 metro areas.

You can download the official report for the state of Florida here, but we've excerpted the ranking for Florida, the Miami area, and the four congressional district that make up most of Miami-Dade below. Results are color-coded by quintile (Green is first, blue second, yellow third, orange fourth and red fifth). As you can see, a common theme both locally and in Florida is problems with access to basic health care and services.

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