Los Angeles Equity Index Scores Cities

Ron Galperin, The City Controller of Los Angeles, CA,  recently published a series of maps – called the “Equity Index” – which score how inequitable the distribution of wealth, education, and clean air are across the city. The goal is to illustrate the level of equity and opportunity in each neighborhood so that city leaders and all residents have a data-driven understanding of community needs throughout Los Angeles.

The Equity Index is based on a series of resource maps that were previously created for residents to find food and financial assistance during the Coronavirus pandemic. It is made up of four categories: socioeconomic, environmental, access to resources, and education, and is broken down by census tracts using publicly available data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Within the maps – which use an Esri platform – users can zoom in and see how each census tract scored on individual metrics.

In creating the index, the following indicators were examined:

  • rent burden;
  • poverty level;
  • home ownership;
  • air quality;
  • closeness to toxic releases;
  • traffic density; ;
  • education level; and,
  • access to the internet, food and health insurance.

Additional variables included ethnic makeup and median income.

“Los Angeles is home to 4 million residents living in more than 100 different neighborhoods,” Galperin said. “It is incredibly geographically, demographically and economically diverse, but there is a great equity divide. Too many neighborhoods face barriers to opportunity that negatively impact the people who live there, many of whom are people of color and immigrant families.”

Each tract is given a score in each category on a scale from 0 to 10. Tracts in the downtown area and eastern side of the city score far lower, with few tracts scoring above a 6.