Announcing the Social Progress Index: California Counties

We are excited to announce for release the Social Progress Index: California Counties, the first-of-its-kind, county-by-county assessment of social progress within a US state.

Why California? In April 2018, we published the Social Progress Index for the US 50 states. California ranked only 33rd – a remarkably poor result for the nation’s largest (and world’s fifth-largest) economy.

Social Progress Index: California Counties takes a more focused look at the state by measuring progress in 56 of the state’s 58 counties, home to 99.99% of Californians. (Alpine and Sierra counties were excluded due to lack of available data.) The Index draws on 55 indicators of social and environmental outcomes, aggregated into thematic components and an overall score to provide a holistic assessment of social progress in each county.

The Social Progress Index: California Counties equips state and local governments, business leaders, and civic groups with a robust assessment of the challenges faced by communities across the state.

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Top findings:

• Northern California leads the state in social progress, although many strengths are not shared across the region. The core San Francisco Bay Area counties struggle with Inclusiveness, scoring particularly poor on residential segregation and residential isolation.

• The coastal-inland divide is real, with eight of the ten lowest-ranked counties located inland in the Central Valley.

• Los Angeles County ranks only 28th out of the 56th counties analyzed, reflecting the general trend of poor results from Southern California. The region struggles particularly in areas like Environmental Quality, Shelter and Inclusiveness. On these components, Los Angeles County ranks 46th, 55th and 53rd, respectively.

• Despite the progressive reputation of Bay Area counties, many perform worse on Opportunity than on other dimensions of the Index. These counties have relatively high rates of residential segregation and residential isolation, which contributes to their lower performance in this dimension. By contrast, Sierra Nevada counties perform very well on Opportunity, especiallyPlacer, Nevada, El Dorado, and Plumas.

• There are signs of demographic fracturing in California, with Latino youth among the most vulnerable. Seven of the bottom ten counties have median ages under 35, and the youngest counties struggling the most tend to have relatively larger Latino populations.

To explore the Social Progress Index: California Counties, click here!

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This exciting new tool was made possible through the generous support of the Skoll Foundation, Heron Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

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