Human Development Project Introduces New Measurement of Americans' Well-Being

The American Human Development Project has announced the introduction of the American Human Development Index, a single measure of well-being for all Americans based on indicators in the areas of health, education, and income.

The project used the index to help compile its new report, The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009 (executive summary, 9 pages, PDF) which provides a snapshot of Americans' well-being by state, congressional district, gender, race, and ethnicity. Unlike single measurements of health, education, or income, the index combines these factors using U.S. government statistics on longevity, educational attainment and enrollment, and earnings to establish a single measurement designed to more accurately reflect Americans' well-being.

"This is not a report about one group of Americans or another; it is about all of us," said Kristen Lewis, co-author of the report. "By ranking the fifty states, the 436 congressional districts, and the major racial and ethnic groups, the American Human Development Index allows everyone to see where his or her community fits in terms of access to opportunity and standard of living."

The report found that although the United States is one of the richest nations in the world, disparities between rich and poor leave many Americans with little ability to build a better life. Among other things, the report found that the average resident in New York's fourteenth congressional district, the nation's most affluent, earns three times as much as the average resident of California's twentieth district, surrounding Fresno.

"The information found in this report will prove invaluable to the philanthropic community when looking for ways to improve the lives of people living with reduced opportunities," said Ed Cain, vice president for programs of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. "American philanthropies can use this report to identify where the needs exist and to guide their investments in programs that address those needs by providing better access to health care, education, and jobs."