About the California Dream Index

What is the California Dream Index?

The California Dream Index is a socioeconomic mobility measurement tool designed to help policy and decision-makers learn more about the level of access that Californians have to education, health, jobs, and opportunities.


California Forward (CA FWD) is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 that leads a movement to improve government and create inclusive, sustainable growth for everyone in all of the state’s regions. You can get involved with the California Dream Index project here or provide a tax deductible donation here.

The California Dream Index is a socioeconomic mobility measurement tool designed to help policy and decision-makers learn more about the level of access that Californians have to education, health, jobs, and opportunities. The CDI consists of 10 trackable outcome measures that influence economic security, mobility, and inclusion through a common platform.

CDI Technical Documentation

The CDI technical documentation available here details the data utilized for each measure and the logic behind that indicators inclusion. In addition to the CDI tool, the project includes a portal linking to additional resources and data to provide richer context about economic mobility in California.

The aggregate CDI score allows users to track overall progress in a given region. This score aggregates across all the measures by normalizing within each indicator and taking the geometric mean of the normalized results.

That methodology is often used in these types of indices (for example in the Social Progress Index) as the geometric mean is less influenced by a single extreme value than the used arithmetic mean.

For each CDI category, a county’s values are normalized by forcing the category’s distribution to be on the inclusive interval zero to one as follows:

CDI Score = [ Raw Value — Min ] / ( Max — Min )

The “global” maxima/minima across counties and time periods for a given category is used. The aggregate score is then calculated by taking the geometric mean of the normalized individual measures and multiplying by 100.

If you have any questions about the CDI methodology or have a bespoke request for raw data not covered by standard CDI tool functionality, please contact us here.

Community of Practice

Blue Shield Foundation The James Irvine Foundation Central Valley Family Foundation Kern Community Foundation Inland Empire Community Foundation Stanislaus Community Foundation Sobrato