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American Human Development Report

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American Human Development Report

Field Social Sciences

Measure of America (formerly known as the American Human Development Project) a non-partisan, non-profit initiative of the Social Science Research Council that aims to stimulate fact-based dialogue about human development issues in the United States. The project introduced the human development approach to the U.S. through its modified American Human Development Index.

American Human Development Index

The American Human Development (HD) Index is a single measure of well-being and opportunity for the United States that allows for "apples-to-apples" comparisons among regions, states, and congressional districts; between women and men; and among racial and ethnic groups.

The American HD Index is expressed as a number from 0 to 10, and measures the same three basic dimensions (i.e., longevity, access to knowledge, and standard of living) as the standard HD Index as used by the United Nations Development Programme, but uses alternate indicators to better reflect the U.S. context and to maximize use of available data. The American HD Index uses life expectancy calculated from official U.S. government mortality data to measure longevity, a combination of educational attainment and school enrollment to measure knowledge, and median personal earnings to measure standard of living. The scores and rankings of the American Human Development Index are not comparable to those of the global United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) HD Index. The purpose of the American Human Development Index is to allow for comparisons within the U.S. - not for comparisons between U.S. population groups to those in other countries.

American Human Development Reports

The American Human Development Report is a biennial report on human well-being in the United States produced by Measure of America. It follows the human development concept, which refers to the process of expanding the well-being of individuals to develop their full potential, by increasing opportunities in the arenas of health, education, and income. Similar to the global Human Development Report, published annually by the United Nations Development Programme, and the National Human Development Reports (NHDRs), the American Human Development Reports serve as advocacy tools to spur lively debates and mobilize support for action and change.

The Measure of America, 2008-2009

The Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009 was written, compiled, and edited by Sarah Burd-Sharps, Kristen Lewis, and Eduardo Borges Martins, and includes forewords by Amartya Sen and William H. Draper III. The book is the first-ever human development report for a wealthy, developed nation. It introduced the American HD Index disaggregated by state, by congressional district, by racial/ethnic group, and by gender, creating ranked lists for each. Funding was provided by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Oxfam America, the Social Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Annenberg Foundation. It was jointly published by the Social Science Research Council and Columbia University Press.

The Measure of America, 2010-2011

The Measure of America, 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience was co-authored by Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis, and includes a foreword by Jeffrey Sachs. The second in the American Human Development Reports series, the 2010-2011 edition features updated Index rankings of the 50 states and 435 congressional districts; reveals huge disparities in the health, education, and the standard of living of different racial and ethnic groups from state to state; and shines a spotlight on disparities within the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country. The report was funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and The Lincy Foundation, and is a joint publication of the Social Science Research Council and New York University Press.

The Measure of America, 2013-2014

The Measure of America, 2013-2014 was co-authored by Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis. It is the third in the American Human Development Reports series and, like its predecessors, includes updated Index rankings while examining changes in well-being since 2000, as well as before and after the Great Recession. The report provides information for the country as a whole, the 50 U.S. states, the 25 largest metropolitan areas, and racial and ethnic groups within those regions. The report was funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.


United States average: 5.03.

Rank U.S. state/federal district HDI
New 2013/2014 values for 2010
Change compared to 2013/2014 values for 2000
New 2013/2014 values for 2010
Change compared to 2013/2014 values for 2000
1 Connecticut 6.17 0.27
2 Massachusetts 6.16 0.40
3 New Jersey 6.12 0.46
4 (20) District of Columbia 6.08 1.32
5 Maryland 5.94 0.48
6 (2) New Hampshire 5.73 0.26
7 (1) Minnesota 5.69 0.26
8 (1) New York 5.66 0.38
9 (1) Colorado 5.53 0.23
10 (3) Hawaii 5.53 0.21
11 (2) Virginia 5.47 0.46
12 (1) California 5.40 0.31
13 (3) Washington 5.40 0.16
14 (2) Rhode Island 5.38 0.34
15 (1) Vermont 5.31 0.31
16 (1) Illinois 5.31 0.33
17 (1) Delaware 5.22 0.26
18 (1) Wisconsin 5.16 0.21
19 (2) Nebraska 5.11 0.33
20 (2) Pennsylvania 5.07 0.30
21 (3) Alaska 5.06 0.11
22 (1) Iowa 5.03 0.26
23 (3) Utah 5.03 0.32
24 (4) Kansas 4.96 0.18
25 (2) Maine 4.93 0.24
26 (5) North Dakota 4.90 0.44
27 (3) Arizona 4.89 0.30
28 (3) Oregon 4.86 0.14
29 (6) Wyoming 4.83 0.42
30 (1) Florida 4.82 0.19
31 (6) South Dakota 4.79 0.40
32 (13) Michigan 4.76 0.12
33 (5) Ohio 4.71 0.03
34 (2) Texas 4.65 0.26
35 (1) Nevada 4.63 0.22
36 (3) Georgia 4.62 0.17
37 (2) Missouri 4.60 0.23
38 (3) North Carolina 4.57 0.32
39 (7) Indiana 4.56 0.11
40 (2) Montana 4.54 0.39
41 (1) New Mexico 4.52 0.21
42 (4) Idaho 4.50 0.12
43 South Carolina 4.35 0.30
44 Tennessee 4.22 0.22
45 Oklahoma 4.14 0.17
46 (2) Louisiana 4.12 0.28
47 (1) Alabama 4.04 0.10
48 (1) Kentucky 4.02 0.13
49 (1) West Virginia 3.95 0.32
50 (1) Arkansas 3.91 0.20
51 Mississippi 3.81 0.27

State Human Development Reports

A Portrait of Mississippi

Mississippi ranked last among U.S. states on the American Human Development Index in 2008-2009. The Mississippi State Conference NAACP commissioned Measure of America to apply the methodology of the national report to the state level. A Portrait of Mississippi: Mississippi Human Development Report 2009 was released on January 26, 2009. The report revealed that some groups in the state enjoy well-being levels similar to those in top-ranked Connecticut, while others experience levels of human development typical of the average American nearly a half century ago. The report contains policy recommendations to address disparities by geography, race, and gender.

A Portrait of Louisiana

Louisiana ranked near the bottom of the American Human Development Index, and has gained attention in recent years in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. On September 17, 2009, Measure of America released A Portrait of Louisiana: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009, the first major research effort into health, education, and income in the state to use post-Katrina data. Among the findings, the report concludes that acute human vulnerability persists, as do profound disparities between certain groups, especially between blacks and whites. The report was commissioned by Oxfam America and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, with funding from Oxfam America and the Foundation for the Mid South.

A Portrait of California

Released in May 2011, the California report provides an in-depth look at the well-being of people living in the most populous and the most diverse state in America.

The report presents Human Development Index values for the five largest metro areas in the state as well as for eight economic regions and 233 neighborhood and county groups covering the entire state. American HD Index values for each major racial/ethnic group, for women and men, and for both native and foreign-born Californians were calculated using mortality data from the California Department of Public Health and earnings and education data from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau. Following in the mold of state-level reports on Mississippi and Louisiana, the report makes extensive use of Census Bureau-designated Public Use Microdata Areas (referred to as "neighborhood and county groups"), in order to highlight disparities in well-being at the local level.

Preliminary findings provide evidence that some groups in California experience some of the highest levels of well-being and access to opportunity in the nation—indeed, in the world—while others are facing distressing challenges when it comes to the basic building blocks of opportunity. For instance:

  • People in the section of Orange County that runs from Newport Beach to Laguna Hills have a life expectancy of about 88 years—fifteen years longer than life expectancy in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles (about 73 years).
  • In the Los Angeles communities of Bel Air, Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades, nearly all adults (97% and higher) have completed high school, whereas in nearby Vernon-Central, only a little more than one-third of all adults have completed this basic educational qualification.
  • Median personal annual earnings range from about $15,000 in the Los Angeles neighborhoods around East Adams and Exposition Park to nearly $73,000 in the Santa Clara communities of Cupertino, Saratoga, and Los Gatos.
  • Statewide, men have median personal earnings of $34,099, whereas women bring home significantly less: $25,188.

The California state report is supported by the California Community Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Draper Foundation, the California Endowment, The Lincy Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, United Way of California, and the Weingart Foundation.

County Human Development Reports and Thematic Briefs

A Portrait of Marin

Released on 18 January 2012, A Portrait of Marin provides a thorough investigation of well-being in Marin County, CA and highlights actions that Marinites can take to lock in human development successes today while setting the stage for significant budget savings and improved well-being tomorrow.

Some residents of Marin are enjoying extraordinarily high levels of well-being and access to opportunity, while others are experiencing levels of health, education, and standard of living that prevailed in the nation three decades ago. At the top of the rankings is Ross (HDI: 9.70), with the Canal area of San Rafael scoring the lowest (HDI: 3.18), below that of West Virginia, the lowest ranked state. Rankings are provided for the major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, native- and foreign-born residents, and Marin’s fifty-one census tracts for which there are reliable U.S Census data.

Select findings from the report illustrate these disparities:

  • The average Ross resident lives nearly 8 years longer than the average Californian and an astonishing decade longer than the national average.
  • While 88 percent of white children are enrolled in preschool, only 47 percent of Latino children are.
  • The distribution of income in Marin is exceedingly lopsided; the top fifth of Marin taxpayers take home about 71 percent of the county’s total income. The bottom fifth earns 1.3 percent of the total income.

The Marin County report was commissioned by the Marin Community Foundation (MCF).

Women’s Well-Being: Ranking America’s Top 25 Metro Areas

Released on April 26th, 2012 Women's Well-Being: Ranking America's Top 25 Metro Areas is the first-ever study of women's well-being in urban America using the human development approach. While we often see comparisons between women and men as well as among different groups of men when it comes to earnings and education, less attention is paid to differences among women in the United States. Women living in the top twenty-five metro areas account for a surprisingly large share of the overall U.S. population - one in every five Americans. However, this large swath of the U.S. population is anything but a monolithic group. This analysis shows that the well-being of women living in metropolitan America varies tremendously by place as well as by race, ethnicity, age, and marital status. The study finds that, on the whole, women living in most major metro areas are doing better than the typical American woman. However, not all urban and suburban women have the same choices and opportunities; the study shows how basic indicators in health, education, and income intersect with other important factors, among them race, ethnicity, age, opportunities in the marketplace, and marital status, to form a more complete picture of the critical factors that shape the ability of different groups of women to live freely chosen lives of value. The brief has attracted the attention of the national and international news media including coverage in the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and Io Donna magazine published by Italy's Corriere della Serra newspaper, among others.

Key findings from the brief include:

  • Women in Washington D.C. earn the most money (median personal earnings: $37,700), and have the highest levels of education, with an American Human Development Index score of 6.8 (overall U.S. score: 5.03; overall U.S. women’s score: 5.0), better than residents of Connecticut, the state with the highest overall levels of well-being.
  • Women in San Francisco, with an American Human Development Index score of 6.72, have the highest life expectancy, 84.5 years.
  • In bottom-ranked Riverside-San Bernardino, with an American Human Development Index score of 4.54, one in five adult women never completed high school, and the typical female worker earns about $22,300 a year. Women here can expect to live 81.7 years.

The brief was made possible through the generous support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

One in Seven: Ranking Youth Disconnection in the 25 Largest Metro Areas

Released on September 13th, 2012 One in Seven: Ranking Youth Disconnection in the 25 Largest Metro Areas finds that an astonishing one in every seven Americans ages 16 to 24 is neither working nor in school—5.8 million young people in all. As their peers lay the foundation for a productive, fulfilling adulthood, these disconnected youth, often referred to as the 'NEETs' (youth not in education, employment, or training) outside of the United States, find themselves adrift at society’s margins, unmoored from the structures that confer knowledge, skills, identity, and purpose.

The cost is high for affected individuals—and for society as a whole. Lack of attachment to the anchor institutions of school or work at this stage of life can leave scars that last a lifetime, affecting everything from earnings and financial independence to physical and mental health and even marital prospects. And last year alone, youth disconnection cost taxpayers $93.7 billion in government support and lost tax revenue. This brief ranks the country’s 25 largest metropolitan areas as well as the nation’s largest racial and ethnic groups in terms of youth disconnection. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for preventing youth disconnection, including moving beyond the “college-for-all” mantra to provide meaningful support and guidance both to young people aiming for a four-year bachelor’s degree and to those whose interests and career aspirations would be better served by relevant, high-quality career and technical education certificates and associate’s degrees.

Measure of America also released a short follow-up info sheet on disconnected youth by neighborhood in New York City, where the organization is based. Youth Disconnection In New York City shows that in densely populated New York City, vastly different youth disconnection rates can be found just miles, and sometimes even blocks, apart. In Manhattan’s East Side neighborhoods of Turtle Bay and Stuyvesant Town, only 3.7 percent of young people are disconnected. A relatively short ride uptown on the number 6 subway train away, in the Bronx neighborhoods of Hunts Point Melrose, and Mott Haven, the rate is nearly ten times higher, 35.6 percent.

The brief was made possible through the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Selected Tools

  • Measure of America Interactive Maps - Measure of America's acclaimed interactive maps allow visitors to explore over 100 indicators of well-being for different population groups and levels of geography across the United States. Map, compare, and download data for free.
  • Philanthropy In/Sight - Through Philanthropy In/Sight the nation’s leading authority on philanthropy, the Foundation Center, overlays data from The Measure of America onto an extensive database about giving in the U.S. The addition of this economic, social, political, environment and other data helps to match need with grants and to measure whether charitable contributions are actually contributing to tangible improvements in the long-term.

See also

External links

  • Measure of America
  • The Measure of America, 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience
  • A Portrait of Mississippi 2009
  • A Portrait of Louisiana 2009
  • A Portrait of California 2011
  • Social Science Research Council


  1. ^ a b c d "HDI Map". Measure of America A Project of the Social Science Research Council. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
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