Our 2010 Recap: Engaging with the Public

While we have our sights firmly set on California for 2011 for our next state report, here are a couple of news items from our 2010 recap:


AHDP Helps Local Organization in Mississippi Secure Stimulus Funding:

Findings from the American Human Development Report’s Mississippi Report were instrumental in securing federal stimulus funding (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA) for the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Hinds County, Mississippi. 43% of the 247,650 residents living in Hinds County have incomes less than 200% of the poverty level, and in the last year, had unemployment rates of up to 8.4%.

The Health Center was awarded $3.8 million from the Department of Health and Human Services for an array of goals: to replace inadequate clinics with newer and better facilities to provide the community with greater access to primary and preventative care, as well as serve clients with specific needs. The grant will also help create 44 construction and 19 clinic jobs. Read more.

AHDP’s Open Letter to the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR):

“Beyond the Poverty Line,” Fall 2010, authors O’Brien and Pedull are correct that although those studying poverty often disagree about the best methodology for measuring it, one thing everyone can agree on is that America needs a far more sensitive gauge of well-being than the blunt instrument that is today’s poverty line.  We could not agree more with their argument that current approaches are lacking; that’s why, in 2008, we introduced The American Human Development Index, a composite measure made up of health, education, and income indicators that allows for a comparative assessment of the well-being of different population segments—the 50 states and 435 congressional districts, major racial and ethnic groups, and women and men.

In many ways, the Index embodies the new approach the authors say is needed, measuring poverty through multiple factors that contribute to expanding an individual’s choices, opportunities, and freedoms and improving their well-being. The Index scores make plain that massive disparities in access to the basic building blocks of a good life separate different communities as well as different racial and ethnic groups. Knowing the nature, extent, and location of such disparities is the first step toward addressing them. For example, our research shows that New Jersey Asian Americans live, on average, an astonishing 26 years longer, are 11 times more likely to have a graduate degree, and earn $35,610 more per year than Native Americans in South Dakota. Disparities also occur within the same racial group in different states; African Americans in Maryland live 3 ½ years longer, are more than twice as likely to have a graduate degree, and earn almost $16,000 more than African Americans in Louisiana.

In November 2010, we released our latest update to the Index, The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience, with a foreword by economist Jeffrey Sachs. The new report paints a portrait of the well-being of different groups of Americans in clear, tangible categories that citizens can use to hold their elected officials accountable and that elected officials can use to better assess both the needs of their constituents and progress made in addressing those needs. Poverty is about more than just income; what a person earns is an important piece of the puzzle, but equally critical are other core capabilities, particularly health and educational attainment. Creating effective public policy solutions to poverty requires a more comprehensive measure of disadvantage, one that goes beyond money metrics to encompass other things that expand or constrain people’s choices and freedoms.  The American Human Development Index is just such a measure.