New index ranks America’s 100 most disadvantaged communities

Jan. 31, 2020

A new Index of Deep Disadvantage seeks to unpack poverty beyond income-based measures to other dimensions of disadvantage, including health and social mobility.

The index, developed by researchers at Princeton University’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions Initiative, reveals stark disparities across the U.S. that can help direct resources and action to where they’re needed most.

The multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage uses data on three interconnected types of disadvantage—income, including rates of poverty and deep poverty; health, including life expectancy and low birth weight; and social mobility, using intragenerational mobility estimates—to shift attention from the individual to the ways in which disadvantage affects entire communities. The index offers a unique side-by-side comparison of cities and counties, which typically are ranked separately on poverty-related measures.

“Our policies suffer when social science research misses so many of the places with the greatest need. The Index of Deep Disadvantage directs our attention to rural areas and places with a history of exploitation,” said Kathryn Edin, co-director of the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton and a lead researcher on the project along with H. Luke Shaefer of U-M and Tim Nelson of Princeton.

You can read more about the Index of Deep Disadvantage in this article from the University of Michigan or view an interactive map with data from the Index.