Academy Article
January 15, 2024

A New Measurement of American Wellbeing: Introducing the CORE Score


The CORE Score is a new nationwide measurement of American wellbeing. It was launched in November 2023 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as part of its cross-partisan, multi-disciplinary Commission on Reimagining Our Economy (CORE). 

The Commission that developed the new metric is chaired by Katherine Cramer (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Ann Fudge (Young & Rubicam Brands), and Nicholas Lemann (Columbia Journalism School) and includes scholars, journalists, artists, and leaders from the business, faith, labor, and philanthropic communities. Within the Commission, Jacob Hacker (Yale University) and Matthew Slaughter (Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth) led the development of the CORE Score.

The Score advances a primary goal of the Commission: moving national focus from how the economy is doing to how Americans are doing. While the most widely used economic metrics – such as the GDP or the Dow Jones Industrial Index – measure economic growth, they do not capture the welfare of the vast majority of Americans. 

Rather than growth or stock price, the CORE Score focuses on well-being, offering a more holistic portrait of how Americans are doing. The data is provided at the county level, with each county’s Score drawn from 11 indicators across four categories: economic security, economic opportunity, health, and political efficacy. 

Economic security
Security is the ability to meet one's economic needs sustainably and to endure periods of instability. Secure access to basic resources is vital for human flourishing, and the absence of security assures an absence of wellbeing.

Economic opportunity
The possibility of creating a better life.

Health entails people's physical and mental state. The ability to access care, and to expect a long life is crucial component of wellbeing.

Political Voice
Political voice refers to the power someone has to influence the direction of their country and community. Crucial to the health of a constitutional democracy is ensuring that people have a voice in the halls of government where policies that shape the trajectory of their life are decided.

The CORE Score offers the ability to understand changes in well-being over time and to view discrepancies along lines of income, race/ethnicity, age, gender, and education. 

In addition to producing the CORE Score, the Commission issued a photojournal, led listening sessions, and published 15 consensus recommendations. The final report, audio from listening sessions, and the photojournal are online

The CORE Score was designed to provide lawmakers, journalists, and scholars an alternative way to measure the economy and to help all Americans better understand their communities. 

Introducing a new measure of wellbeing.



Commission on Reimagining Our Economy

Katherine J. Cramer, Ann M. Fudge, and Nicholas B. Lemann