Santa Monica Releases New Findings from Wellbeing Index

New findings show a strong community in need of social connection, economic security, and stress management

September 14, 2017

Santa Monica Releases New Findings from Wellbeing Index

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The City of Santa Monica’s Office of Civic Wellbeing released findings from the second Wellbeing Index, a first-of-its-kind tool that uses data to assess community health and wellbeing to prioritize policy and programs based on residents’ most pressing needs. The Index was created through the City’s winning entry in the 2013 Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, an ideas competition for cities.

For 2017, the second Wellbeing Index was fine-tuned to increase usability including data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, age, gender, zip code, and other factors. Additional focus was applied to the resident input component, with the participation rate doubling from 2015 to add 3827 resident voices responding to the wellbeing survey. The narrative emerging from the findings indicates that Santa Monica is a community with many strengths, including a diversity of lived experiences; however, it is crucial that the City continues to provide equitable access to activities and opportunities that promote wellbeing.

“Overall, we're in good health, feel engaged in our neighborhoods and are happy most of the time,” said Mayor Ted Winterer. “But there are clear areas of disparity, and the overall strength of a community is measured by its ability to help all members thrive, including its most vulnerable members. The latest Wellbeing Index tells us that we have work to do and we want to enlist the entire community in bridging these gaps.”

Here are a few highlights from the 2017 Index findings with the full executive summary available here:

Santa Monicans are fairly satisfied with life, but there are groups that experience significant stress and loneliness.

  • 74% of residents are optimistic about the future
  • Nearly 80% feel that life is worthwhile; but residents ages 25-34 have less time to do things they love relative to other population segments and
  • Nearly 40% of residents don’t feel a sense of belonging in their neighborhood

Santa Monicans feel trust in their neighborhood, but they have less sense of social connection or ability to influence decision making in their city.

  • 84% report they feel they can trust their neighbors
  • 74% plan to stay in their neighborhood for a number of years
  • Less than half stop and have informal interactions with neighbors
  • 29% feel they can influence decisions in Santa Monica

Overall, Santa Monicans are healthy, but there is room for improvement.

  • Residents have fewer chronic health conditions like coronary heart disease and obesity than the average American
  • An increasing number (62%) are not active on a daily basis or meeting basic nutrition goals (80%)

Santa Monicans reported being able to afford living here, but worry about housing security and future job opportunities.

  • Nearly 50% of residents (both renters and homeowners) spend 30% of their income on housing
  • About 25% worry about paying their rent/mortgage and the percentage of parents who worry that their children will not be able to live in Santa Monica on their own has increased to 62% from 52% in 2015

“Santa Monica has a found an inventive and effective way to understand resident wellbeing and measure progress in making it stronger,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “This pioneering approach can be adopted by any city looking to get more rigorous in its efforts to improve quality of life for all.”

Along with release of the Index, the City launched a new partnership with Kaiser Permanente to create a new video series, Wellbeing365: Stress Less and Thrive. The video series, offered in English and Spanish, highlights a range of everyday actions for individuals and local resources to support community wellbeing.

With this second round of findings, the City will continue its work and hone in on partnerships as an effective path to address concerning aspects of community wellbeing. This will involve activating partnerships at multiple levels, including: the launch of programs that drive citizen action with Bloomberg Philanthropies-led "Cities of Services"; intensive staff training on racial equity led by Center for Social Inclusion and Government Alliance on Race and Equity; and growing the network to get other cities replicating the Wellbeing Project.

For more information on Santa Monica’s Wellbeing Project, The Wellbeing Index, the 2017 Wellbeing Index findings, and the Office of Civic Wellbeing, visit www.smgov.net/wellbeing.

Other Resources

Executive Summary >
Photos and Graphics >
Presentation to Council >

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