How Are Americans Doing?

With the U.S. still recovering from the recent financial meltdown, the continuing decline of manufacturing in the U.S., high unemployment, plummeting housing prices and rising foreclosures, limited access to healthcare, and increasing cost of living, many people are left wondering whether they’ll be able to continue to provide for their families. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a modern approach to identifying interlocking factors that expand or restrict people’s opportunities to a better quality of life.

HDI is a composite measure of wellbeing and opportunities that helps inform how people compare in their ability to lead a healthy life, raise their standard of living, and access knowledge and opportunities. Using a scoring system of 0 to 10, HDI measures three indices: health, education, and income. For the year 2011, the U.S. as a whole scored 5.17. According to HDI’s index by state, people living in the northeast and also Minnesota and Colorado seem to be doing much better than people in the Southern states, while the Midwest is slightly better than the national average. Connecticut was ranked highest, with a score of 6.3, and West Virginia was at the bottom, with 3.8. Similar trends can be seen for health, education, and income.

To see a detailed map of HDI and other demographic and socio-economic indicators click here.


Author: Nandhini Gulasingam

Nandhini Gulasingam is a Senior Analyst for IT Solutions at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) where she manages GIS, database, web development projects for the SSRC and is developing data visualization techniques for use in the social and behavioral sciences. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Geography where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

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