The Opportunity Index, and the indicators that comprise it, aim to measure what opportunity looks like in the United States. Since 2011, the Index has provided a snapshot of conditions that can be used to identify and improve access to opportunity—in comprehensive terms—for residents and their communities. The data and full analysis online show how Opportunity Index scores have changed over time and what access to opportunity looks like today. This Index provides Opportunity Scores for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and for nearly 2,100 counties, which together represent 97 percent of the U.S. population.
Many factors influence the kinds of opportunity people have, starting with unchangeable characteristics such as gender, race and ethnicity, genetic factors and family background. The quality of parenting, a family’s income and individual health as well as the health and safety of neighborhoods, the quality of schools and the inclusiveness of one’s community—all of these can respond to improvement efforts at personal, institutional and societal levels. These conditions vary from place to place, as well as over time, and that is why these conditions are the focus of the Opportunity Index.
Because the Opportunity Index is multidimensional, it paints a broad picture of opportunity that goes beyond economics alone. The 2017 Index includes indicators within four dimensions of community well-being:
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