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Geographies of Opportunity: Ranking Well-Being by Congressional District

Publication date: 
April, 2015

Geographies of Opportunity is an in-depth look at how residents of America’s 436 congressional districts are faring in three fundamental areas of life: health, access to knowledge, and living standards.

While metrics in these three areas do not measure America’s natural bounty, the rich diversity of its population, or the vibrant web of organizations and individuals engaged in making it a better place, they capture outcomes that are essential to well-being and opportunity. This report makes the case that geography- and population-based approaches offer a way to address the multiple and often interlocking disadvantages faced by families who are falling behind. Only by building the capabilities of all residents to seize opportunities and live to their full potential will the United States thrive.

The hallmark of this work is the American Human Development Index, a supplement to Gross Domestic Product and other money metrics that tells the story of how ordinary Americans are faring. The American Human Development Index brings together official government data on health, education, and earnings and allows for well-being rankings not just of congressional districts but also of states, counties, census tracts, women and men, and racial and ethnic groups. The Index can empower communities and organizations with a tool to identify priorities and track progress over time.