On a 0-10 scale, San Diego's rating was 5.8 in the American Human Development Index, compared to 5.46 for California as a whole and 5.09 for the entire United States.
The figure trailed only San Francisco, according to the report funded by United Ways of California.
Neighborhoods around Mission Bay and La Jolla rated 8.17, one of the highest levels of well-being in the country. The bottom-ranked area at 4.15 was San Diego South, which includes Imperial Beach, according to the report.
Asian-Americans ranked highest in San Diego, at 7.65, followed by whites, at 6.64, African-Americans, at 4.84, and Latinos, at 4.38.
The index uses standard government data such as life expectancy at birth and mortality rates to measure health; age of school enrollment and educational degree attainment to measure education; and median earnings to measure standard of living.
The report, called “A Portrait of California,'' showed disparity between various regions in the Golden State and even within metropolitan areas. For example, life expectancy in the Los Angeles area ranged from 88 years in Newport Beach to 73 years in Watts.
“The report can tell us how African-Americans in the Bay Area compare to their white counterparts, or how Latinos in L.A. are doing, compared with Latinos in Fresno, or how women in Los Angeles have done compared to the well- being of a typical American from 30 years ago,'' said Peter Manzo, president and CEO of United Ways of California.
“The American Human Development Index gives us a more complete view of how people are doing,'' he said. “Health, education and income results and challenges affect real people in combination, yet too often we try to focus on one factor in isolation."
Among the findings:
-- Nearly every adult in the highly rated area around La Jolla and Mission Bay is a high school graduate, and 68 percent have a bachelor's degree. However, in and around National City, only 15 percent have a four-year college degree.
-- More than 40 percent of Asians and whites in San Diego had college degrees, while one quarter of blacks did and 14 percent of Latinos.
-- Life expectancy in San Diego is 80.7 years, six months longer than the California average. The only ethnic group below San Diego's overall figure was African-Americans at 74.6, but that is still higher than other blacks in the state.
-- San Diego's median income was $31,000, ahead of the state figure of $30,000 and the second-highest metropolitan area behind San Francisco.
-- The median income for whites in San Diego was $38,000, compared to $36,000 for Asians, $30,000 for blacks and $23,000 for Latinos.