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Research at CFED

Measures of Financial Security and Well-being at CFED

Reliable measurement tools, deeply informed by the insights of financial practitioners, academic experts and average Americans, make it possible to meaningfully assess progress on assets-related issues. The research team at CFED is engaged in three large-scale measurement projects.

Featured Projects

Assets and Opportunity Scorecard

Each year, CFED publishes the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, a comprehensive look at Americans’ financial security. To produce the Scorecard, we:

  • Collect outcome data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia on measures of household financial security and opportunity

  • Assess the strength of 33 state policies and produce resource guides and policy guides for 12 policy priorities

  • Work with an advisory group of peers from the field to inform the content, data methods, and resources to ensure maximum value and utility

  • Produce reports and resources detailing outcome and policy trends
  • Since its first release 10 years ago, the Scorecard has served as one of the most reliable and respected resources available at the state level to help advocates, practitioners, and policymakers take stock and take action to improve residents’ chances of economic mobility and security. Explore this year’s Scorecard and learn more about our methodology.

    CFED also produces the Local Assets & Opportunity Profile, a resource similar to the Scorecard for local areas. The Profile includes a set of over 50 data indicators across seven categories that document and assess the current conditions of financial security, economic opportunity, and financial access. Explore our existing Profiles.

    Financial Well-being Metrics Development

    Under contract with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), CFED is leading a research team that includes the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Urban Institute, ICF International and Vector Psychometric Group in the development and testing of metrics to measure financial well-being and its drivers among working-age and older Americans The research involves extensive literature reviews, qualitative interviews with practitioners and consumers as well psychometric analysis in an effort to both to define financial well-being and to create a tool that accurately measures it. In addition, the research aims to develop well-founded hypotheses regarding the knowledge, behavior, and personal traits that predict financial well-being.

    Financial Access Metrics

    As part of the U.S. Department of Treasury-funded Bank On project, CFED developed estimations of the number of unbanked and underbanked households for each city, county, metropolitan area, and census tract in the United States with 250 or more households.

    Individuals can use the data tool to:

  • Download estimates of the number of unbanked and underbanked households at the city/town, county, metro area and state levels.
  • Download supplementary demographic data on at-risk populations in your community.

  • Map unbanked and underbanked households down to the neighborhood level. Or to search an interactive map of the US, click here.
  • Print a customized report on the financially underserved in your community.
  • CFED, the National League of Cities, San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment, and the New America Foundation for Bank On USA also worked to support the capacity of local partnerships to design, implement, and evaluate the efficacy of programs that expand access to safe and affordable financial services and financial education for un- and underbanked households. CFED worked closely with partners to redesign, the online home for resource sharing, networking and information gathering for individuals affiliated with or interested in Bank On and other financial access initiatives.

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