United Way

California human development index

A Portrait of California, 2014-15 is a new report by Measure of America that measures how Californians are doing in health, education and income—the building blocks of a decent life and the core focus areas of United Way’s community impact work.  

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A Portrait of California applies the American Human Development Index which tells the story of how ordinary Americans are doing over time, using indicators from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey and other reputable sources. These indicators include life expectancy at birth, educational attainment, school enrollment, median personal earnings and more. In addition to viewing this data at the state, regional, county and neighborhood level, we’re also able to see them through the lens of gender, race and ethnicity.  

Kern County lags behind much of California in the health, education and income indicies and a child born in Kern will expect to live a life 3 ½ years shorter than much of our state’s population.

Some highlights from A Portrait of California, 2014-15 include:

  • Over the past three decades, California’s gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by 123%. However, the income of the typical California household has only increased by 7% in the same time period.
  • A person born in California today is expected to live 81.2 years, more than two years longer than the national average. However, California experiences a Latino paradox where Latinos outlive whites by 3.6 years despite having lower educational levels and lower rates of health coverage.
  • While nearly 31% of Californians have at least a bachelor’s degree, 18.5% of Californians have less than a high school diploma (or equivalent). Only the state of Texas has a worse high school completion rate.

The American Human Development Index measures three areas that most of us would agree are the basic building blocks of a decent life: health, education and income. The index is modeled on the approach taken by the annual United Nations’ Human Development Report, which has now been instituted in nearly 200 countries.

United Ways of California bulit the map below using data from the report by Measure of America.

Our Focus

Early Childhood Literacy

Financial Stability

Homelessness and Hunger

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