Across the state, 3.3 million households are living paycheck-to-paycheck, sleepless at night, wondering how they will pay for next month’s rent and feed their families. This reality would be hidden if we used an antiquated measure like the Federal Poverty Line to determine the economic viability of the people of California.

For over a decade, in partnership with the University of Washington, the Insight Center has provided the California Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (Self-Sufficiency Standard) to provide a realistic and comprehensive understanding of the economic security of Californians. Many policymakers, advocates, service providers, foundations, and families use it to make informed decisions on working family issues.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard measures the minimum income necessary to cover all of a non-elderly (under 65 years old) and non-disabled individual or family’s basic expenses – housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, and taxes – without public or private assistance. It is available for all 58 counties across the state. This tool allows you to look up the Self-Sufficiency Standard for a specific county and household type in California.

Our 2018 report, The Cost of Being Californian (PDF, 1.3 MB), highlights the initial key findings from the 2018 update of the Standard, and indicates that the cost of being Californian, particularly for women and communities of color, has become dangerously high.

In addition, you can click the links below to download county-specific data one-pagers (PDF, 1.4 MB):

Click here to download a one-pager (PDF, 1.4 MB) about the methodology employed to calculate the 2018 Standard. Click here to download the full methodology report (PDF, 389 KB). 

Click here to access prior years’ Self Sufficiency Standard Data.

Use the tabs and tools below to learn more about the health of California families and to look up the 2018 Standard for your area.



Dr. Diana Pearce, the Director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington, developed the Self-Sufficiency Standard used in this report. The 2018 update to the California Self-Sufficiency Standard has been prepared in collaboration with Lisa Manzer and Diana Pierce at the University of Washington, Center for Women’s Welfare. We are grateful for their hard work and partnership. We would also like to thank Rachel Massaro, from Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and Annette Case for their insights and contributions to this update and report.

This report was completed in partnership with Joint Ventures Silicon Valley.

Funding for the 2018 update was made possible by Stanford Health Care, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Work2Future/City of San Jose, El Camino Hospital, Santa Clara County Department of Education, Santa Clara Public Health Department, and The Packard Foundation.