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The Cost of Being Californian: A Look at the Economic Health of California Families

Drawing on the 2018 Self-Sufficiency Standard for California, The Cost of Being Californian: A Look at the Economic Health of California Families details the precarious economic conditions faced by many families in California, where more than one third of all households cannot independently cover the costs of their most basic needs.

For more than a decade, in partnership with the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington, the Insight Center has provided the Self-Sufficiency Standard for California to gain a realistic and comprehensive understanding of the economic security of Californians. 

An alternative measure to the Federal Poverty Line, the Self-Sufficiency Standard uses a “bare bones” budget to estimate the minimum income needed for more than 700 different family types to meet the essential costs of living across California’s 58 counties. 

While California has a reputation as a progressive policy leader, the 2018 data reveals the alarming extent to which low, middle, even higher-income households and, particularly, families of color face barriers to making ends meet within the largest economy in the United States. 

Click here to view and download the full report

Click here to explore the new 2018 Self-Sufficiency Standard, including family-specific data by county.

“Our 2018 report, The Cost of Being Californian highlights the initial key findings from the 2018 update of the Family Needs Calculator, and indicates that the cost of being Californian, particularly for women and communities of color, has become dangerously high.”