The Measure of America Series


The inspiration behind this book series is a concept developed by Pakistani economist and game theorist, Mahbub ul Haq, who argued that common indicators of wealth (GDP, stock indexes, national debt, etc.) fail to capture the quality of life experienced by ordinary people. Measure of America is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative that produces biennial reports based on an alternative measure of progress: the American Human Development Index. This single number represents an individual’s holistic well-being — their access to opportunity, education, healthcare, and economic security.

The Measure of America books have been assigned in universities and advanced high school classes across the country, and have helped policy makers shape crucial policy and fiscal decisions.


While at Humantific, I worked closely with authors Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis on the the 2011 publication, A Portrait of California. We sought to communicate the rich story that unfolded when the human development index was disaggregated by geography, race, ethnicity and gender. Salient themes were discussed in early meetings (the “Five Californias,” the social gradient, a surge in low wage service sector jobs), which the design team then translated into informational graphics. We poured over every draft update that came to our inbox, searching for every opportunity to enrich their story with explanatory charts and visuals. The resulting narrative is inviting and easy to read, yet provides deep insight. It not only shines a light on the most marginalized groups in our society, it advocates for them, providing a clear prescription for change.

Selected Spreads:


Following the recently published A Portrait of California report, this report is focused on Marin County, located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Marin is known for its affluence and natural beauty, yet careful analysis reveals that the quality of life among different groups varies considerably. While some Marinites are enjoying extraordinarily high levels of well-being, others are experiencing levels of health, education, and standard of living that are ranked lower than the worst-scoring state in the United States.

Selected Spreads: