Past Winners

SANTA MONICA : 2013 WINNER

The Wellbeing Project: Measuring and Managing What Really Matters

  • 92,472

    Population (2013)
  • $58,933

    GDP per capita (2011)
  • English

    Official language
  • Indirectly elected mayor (two-year term)

    Type of government
  • According to The Wellbeing Project resident survey (2014):

    66% of Santa Monica residents say they live within a five minute walk to goods and services
  • 1 in 5 residents worry about paying rent or mortgage and almost as many worry about losing a job (18%) or paying credit card bills (15%)
  • 53% of Santa Monicans report concerns over their children’s prospects of affording life in the city
  • 13% of Santa Monica residents see their friends or relatives socially less than once a month
  • Santa Monica has two feet of bike lane per resident and more than 5% of the city is parkland or beach, but more than 52% of Santa Monicans aren’t active daily
  • Though Santa Monica has a strong voter turnout, with 80% voting in the last election, only 29% feel they can influence city decision-making

The Problem

Governments around the world are starting to recognize that economic growth alone does not determine a community’s success. True measures of progress take into account the wellbeing of people. Do they feel empowered to make change? Are they happy, healthy, and connected to the community? Are they able access lifelong learning? Or clean air? Without these measures, governments are challenged to manage for better results.

The Innovation

Santa Monica is doing something never before done by a city in the United States. It has defined the factors that contribute to wellbeing – personal outlook, environment/place, health, economic opportunity, learning and community connectedness – and is comprehensively measuring how its citizens and communities fare on these indicators. From there, the city is aligning resources, programs and policies to drive improvements.

The Impact

In April of 2015, Santa Monica released its initial Wellbeing Index findings. These early results shaped the goals for the biennial City budget adopted in June of 2015. These findings also galvanized the creation of new initiatives which are being pursued in areas such as civic engagement, transportation, access to healthy food, and more. The City is in the process of developing the Index 2.0, which will include more robust data from city departments and an analysis of nearly 48 million social media posts to help determine the socio-economic factors that affect citizen’s opinions of their local government.


  • • 1 in 5 residents worry about paying rent or mortgage and almost as many worry about losing a job (18%) or paying credit card bills (15%)
  • • 53% of Santa Monicans report concerns over their children’s prospects of affording life in the city
  • • 13% of Santa Monica residents see their friends or relatives socially less than once a month
  • • Santa Monica has two feet of bike lane per resident and more than 5% of the city is parkland or beach, but more than 52% of Santa Monicans aren’t active daily
  • • Though Santa Monica has a strong voter turnout, with 80% voting in the last election, only 29% feel they can influence city decision-making

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