Spotlight on Mendocino County




This Spotlight on Mendocino County, part of the Regional Report Series associated with A Portrait of California 2021–2022, paints a picture of well-being and access to opportunity across Mendocino County today. The Spotlight is an extensive study of well-being across race, place, and gender in this county. Using the American Human Development Index (HDI), this report presents how Mendocino County residents are doing on three key dimensions of well-being—a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Broken down by race and ethnicity, by gender, and by census tract, the index shows how communities across Mendocino County are faring relative to one another and to the state and country as a whole. The report found that stark variation exists by place and by demographic group—resulting in significant inequalities regionwide.

The HDI is expressed on a scale from zero to ten, with ten indicating higher levels of well-being across health, education, and standard of living. Mendocino County as a whole scores 4.53, falling significantly below the California statewide score of 5.85. Of the four racial and ethnic groups for whom it is possible to calculate an HDI score, Asian (5.71 out of 10) Mendocino residents have the highest levels of well-being, followed by white (5.37), Latino (4.71), and Native American (3.58) residents. The Black population in Mendocino County is about 600 people, which is too small to calculate a reliable HDI score. In California as a whole, the Black score is 4.44.

The range of HDI scores by census tract in Mendocino County runs from a high of 6.74 in Census Tract 117, which includes areas east of Ukiah including Regina Heights, Talmage, Vichy Springs, and the Guidiville Rancheria, to a low of 3.16 in Census Tract 115.02, which includes the northeastern section of Ukiah and Orrs Creek as well as Oak Manor.




  • The average life expectancy for residents of Mendocino County is 78.8 years, 2.3 years shorter than the state average. A baby girl born today in Mendocino can expect to live 82.4 years, 6.9 years longer than a baby boy (75.5 years).



  • Compared to California as a whole, adult residents of Mendocino are slightly more likely to have graduated from high school and less likely to have earned bachelor’s degrees. While 86.7 percent of adults have at least a high school diploma, 24.0 percent hold at least a bachelor’s degree and 9.2 percent hold a graduate degree.
  • Compared to boys and young men, girls and young women ages 3 to 24 have notably higher rates of enrollment in Mendocino (79.1 percent of females ages 3 to 24 are enrolled compared to 75.4 percent of males) and enjoy an edge across all educational outcomes—though this educational advantage is not reflected in their earnings.



  • Median personal earnings in Mendocino are $28,500, about $11,400 less than in the state overall. The gender gap in earnings is persistent across the United States and California. For the state as a whole, women earn 73 cents for every dollar men earn. That pattern holds in Mendocino, where women earn 71 cents for every dollar men earn. This translates into a gap of $9,300 in annual earnings, as men earn $32,800 compared to $23,500 for women.