Most Americans are better off today than they were a decade ago. But for some, the improvements to their well-being have been especially notable.
Latina women and Latino men experienced the biggest gains in well-being, according to the American Human Development Index from Brooklyn, NY-based nonprofit Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America project. The index was first introduced in 2008 as an alternative to GDP (gross domestic product, or the value of goods and services produced by a country) as a measure of society’s progress. The index is a composite rating based on health, education and income.
While still below the national average, the American Human Development Index scores for the Latino community increased 22 percent over the past 10 years, versus just a 6.4 percent increase overall across the US.
“The decade following the Great Recession was the LatinX decade, with American Human Development Index gains among Latinas and Latinos outpacing all others,” Kristen Lewis, director of Measure of America, said in the report. (Latinx is a relatively new non-gender specific term for people of Latin American descent.)
Here are some of the report’s other findings:
- Asian residents, who had the highest well-being scores a decade ago, still had the best well-being of any racial or ethnic group in the US, followed by white Americans.
- White men experienced the smallest improvement in well-being since 2008, aside from Native American men, who were the only group to experience a decline in their well-being.
- Overall, Native Americans scored the lowest in terms of their quality of life. Their well-being is on par with what would have been expected for the average American in the 1960s.
- Black women made the second-largest gain in their well-being, with a 17.5 percent improvement. This trend has fueled diverging fortunes for men and women in the black community, as black men’s human development index scores increased by much less.
- Women overall have higher education and well-being scores than men, even though they still earn less.
Americans’ well-being also varies greatly depending on where they live, not just their race, ethnicity or gender. Quality of life was highest in Washington, DC, Massachusetts and Connecticut and lowest in Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Generally, people who live in the Northeast have better well-being than those in the South. Compared to 2008, residents of the vast majority of states are better off now. The only states that experienced no meaningful change to their human development index scores were Michigan, Alaska, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.
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