Understanding Local Human Development: A Portrait of Los Angeles County
On November 29, Hilton Foundation partner Measure of America launched a groundbreaking report examining the well-being and access to opportunity in Los Angeles County, using a human development framework and index. The report, A Portrait of Los Angeles County, presents American Human Development Index scores for Los Angeles County neighborhoods and demographic groups and exploring a range of critical issues, including health, education, living standards, environmental justice, housing, homelessness, violence and inequality. We at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, alongside 13 other philanthropic entities and a number of public sector partners, supported this report so that each of us working within Los Angeles has a greater understanding and comprehensive response to the nuanced social and health issues that impact Angelenos.
Among the most interesting takeaways, Measure of America created “Five Los Angeles Counties” by grouping cities and places, not by geography but by their scores on the 10-point American Human Development Index scale. These Five LA Counties are: “Glittering LA,” “Elite Enclave LA,” “Main Street LA,” “Struggling LA” and “Precarious LA.”
The “Five Los Angeles Counties” open a new window through which we can see and therefore better understand what advantage and disadvantage means countywide, and can thus more effectively address the constraints on human freedom that hold back far too many Angelenos. Not everyone will share all the traits ascribed to the “Los Angeles” in which they live— there is a range of well-being to be found in each— but these vignettes, rooted in analysis of U.S. government and state of California data, reflect outcomes of the typical resident.
Despite the report being focused on Los Angeles County, the Portrait of Los Angeles County also measures how Los Angeles County is progressing toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using a Global Goals dashboard (pictured below). The spirit behind the Global Goals is not just to meet the goals as measured, by global or national averages, but rather to inspire meaningful action in states and cities, counties and communities. Because the dashboard adapts the Global Goals in terms of relevant geographic units of analysis, population groups, and indicators— it allows Angelenos to understand how and where to target efforts to best address the goals in our philanthropic work.
The data and analysis in the Portrait of LA County can be used not only to establish a baseline and track progress over time but also to set goals around which stakeholders can rally, outlined in the Recommendations for Action. Stakeholders have agreed that setting a bold but realistic goal for the future can energize existing efforts, stimulate new initiatives, and mobilize agencies, organizations and communities to pull together toward a common end: improving well-being for all LA County residents and addressing well-being disparities in concrete, measurable ways.
A Portrait of Los Angeles County
Launched on November 29, 2017