Measure of America’s A Portrait of California 2014–2015, funded by a consortium of funders including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, The California Endowment, and United Ways of California, uses the human development approach to tell us how people are doing. Three dimensions—a long and healthy lifeaccess to knowledge, and a decent standard of living—are examined in detail and presented along a simple ten-point scale: the American Human Development (HD) Index.

The report found that although California’s HD index exceeds the national average, scores by county, metro area, and neighborhood cluster reveal large variations in fundamental health, education, and earnings outcomes within the state. The greatest geographical variations are often found within, rather than between, counties and metro areas.

Through this geographical variation, the report identified “Five Californias”:

  • One Percent California consists of the two neighborhood clusters that score 9 or above out of 10 on the HD Index; these neighborhoods are home to just under one in every one hundred Californians.
  • Elite Enclave California is made up of neighborhood clusters that score between 7 and 8.99 on the Index; 15 percent of Californians are part of this group.
  • Main Street California comprises neighborhood clusters that score between 5 and 6.99 and is home to 39 percent of Californians.
  • Struggling California is home to the largest share of the state’s population, 42 percent, with these neighborhood clusters scoring between 3 and 4.99 on the Index.
  • Disenfranchised California comprises neighborhood clusters that score below 3 on the HD Index; this California is home to roughly 3 percent of the state’s population.

The HD Index numbers from the Five Californias make plain the need to address the future of the state in two ways: by preventing problems from taking root in childhood and by helping parents. Data and analysis can be found here.

Measure of America’s Publications on California:

A Portrait of California 2014–2015 
A Portrait of Sonoma County 
A Portrait of Marin 
A Portrait of California 2011


Download the report in Spanish here.

Publication Details

A Portrait of California 2014–2015
Lewis, Kristen, Burd-Sharps, Sarah
Measure of America
Publish Date
Lewis, Kristen, Burd-Sharps, Sarah, A Portrait of California 2014–2015 (Measure of America, 12/10/2014).