Descriptive Title: Ethnic diversity index

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Census block group

Average diversity index scores (2010)
NeighborhoodAverage Score
Bayview/Hunter's Point 77.0
Bernal Heights 75.1
Castro/Upper Market 45.2
Chinatown 24.8
Excelsior 79.0
Financial District/South Beach 57.8
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park 44.2
Haight Ashbury 47.3
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 63.1
Inner Sunset 60.0
Lakeshore 65.9
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 34.8
McLaren Park
Mission 78.7
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 58.9
Noe Valley 47.2
North Beach 58.0
Outer Mission 75.3
Outer Richmond 61.0
Pacific Heights 38.0
Potrero Hill 56.9
Presidio 44.5
Presidio Heights 42.6
Russian Hill 43.5
San Francisco 63.1
Seacliff 52.6
South of Market 71.2
Treasure Island 85.9
Twin Peaks 60.6
Visitacion Valley 73.7
West of Twin Peaks 59.8
Western Addition 63.6

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Ethnic minorities have been identified as experiencing obstacles to accessibility to health care and other social services due to linguistics, cultural impediments and lack of awareness to services. How people experience racial and ethnic discrimination has an impact on mortality and morbidity. Racially segregated neighborhoods create conditions adverse to health in a number of ways. As places, these neighborhoods typically have fewer assets and resources such as schools, libraries, and public transportation.a Segregated low-income neighborhoods host unwanted land uses such as power plants, solid and hazardous waste sites, and bus yards.b Freeways and other busy roadways often run through low-income neighborhoods resulting in disproportionately higher exposure to noise and air pollution. Residents are often isolated from economic opportunities and marginalized in political decision-making, limiting their ability to effect change in their circumstances.c,d The attributes of segregated neighborhoods have profound and diverse impacts on health.e-g Residents of high-poverty neighborhoods live about eight fewer years than non-poverty neighborhoods; they also suffer more preventable events like infant mortality, pedestrian injuries, and homicide. Research also demonstrates a relationship between residential segregation and teenage childbearing, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease, availability of food establishments serving healthy foods, and exposure to toxic air pollutants.h

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

The Diversity Index can be viewed as a measure of segregation, ranging from 0 (no diversity) to 100 (complete diversity). If an area's entire population belongs to one race group and one ethnic group, then an area has zero diversity. An area's diversity index increases to 100 when the population is evenly divided into race/ethnic groups.

The 2007 Diversity Index for the United States stands at 59.3 but varies from 8.9 to 82.6 by state. A Diversity Index of 59.3 translates to a probability of 59.3% that two people randomly chosen from the U.S. population would belong to different race or ethnic groups. San Francisco is a very culturally and ethnically diverse city. As a city, San Francisco’s diversity index, 63.1, is slightly higher than the national average. Over half (57%) of San Francisco neighborhoods have a diversity score at or above the national average. The most ethnically diverse neighborhoods according to the diversity index include Treasure Island (85.9), Excelsior (79), the Mission (78.7), Crocker Amazon (77.6), and Bayview (77). The Chinatown neighborhood has the lowest diversity score (24.8), presumably due to the large concentration of Chinese and other Asian-American populations in that area. 


Developed by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), the Diversity Index represents the likelihood that two persons, chosen at random from the same area, belong to different race or ethnic groups. Ethnic diversity as well as racial diversity is included in their definition of the Diversity Index. ESRI's diversity calculations accommodate up to seven race groups: six single-race groups (White, Black, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Some Other Race) and one multiple-race group (two or more races). Each race group is divided into two ethnic origins, Hispanic and non-Hispanic. If an area is ethnically diverse, then racial diversity is compounded.


The diversity index score has several limitations that need to be considered when interpreting the score. The diversity index is only a snap shot in time of racial and ethnic diversity of a neighborhood and does not take into account economic diversity.  Also, as is the case of the Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco, the diversity index does not reflect that a large ethnic population concentrated in one area could be a positive aspect of that neighborhood. Concentrated ethnic populations can be an inviting environment for both recent immigrants of that ethnic community and visitors/residents who want to know more about that culture. Lastly, a higher diversity index score does not necessarily equate to better health outcomes. 

Data Source

Environmental Systems Research Institute Business Information Solutions (ESRI BIS), 2010.

Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software.

Map data is presented at the level of the census block group. The map also includes planning neighborhood names, in the vicinity of their corresponding census block group.

Table data is presented by planning neighborhood. Planning neighborhoods are much larger geographic areas then census block groups. SF DPH used ArcGIS software and a "centroids within" methodology to convert census blocks to geographic mean center points. We then assigned census blocks groups to planning neighborhoods based on the spatial location of those geographic mean center points and calculated the planning neighborhood totals for the table.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map

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