Porter County is one of five Indiana counties to receive the highest ratings for quality of life in a report issued Tuesday.
Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic Research issued the report, "The Human Development of Indiana Counties: A Policy Perspective," using a human development index to review all of Indiana's 92 counties.
The index was created by the United Nations to measure quality of life and assess socioeconomic growth. The ranking system examines life expectancy, adult literacy rate, health, education, longevity, per capita gross domestic product and purchasing power.
Overall, Indiana ranked 39th among the states for health, education and living standards in 2014, according to the report.
"We find that there is disparity in HDI across counties," CBER director Michael Hicks said. "We find evidence of higher HDI for urban counties relative to rural counties. Cities such as South Bend and Evansville received the highest HDI whereas Anderson and Terre Haute received the lowest."
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Five counties receiving the highest HDI rankings were Porter, Hamilton, Monroe, Tippecanoe and Boone. Hamilton County received a perfect store at 100, followed by Monroe County at 92 and Tippecanoe County at 88.
"There is a clear benefit to urban locations and the presence of universities for a variety of factors related to health, education and income," co-author Srikant Devaraj said. "This is apparent in the individual and the aggregate HDI rankings."
The lowest ranked counties — LaGrange, Scott, Switzerland, Starke and Crawford — are all far from metropolitan areas.
Recommendations from the report including improving K-12 education, attracting skilled workers, improving responsiveness of local government and governmental cost-saving measures, developing local infrastructure to support healthy lifestyles and focusing on regional development.
"Current economic development policies, many of which date from the 1960s, have failed to generate significant population and income growth in most Indiana counties," Hicks said. "A focus on human capital and quality of place should replace existing economic development efforts at the county and municipal levels."