betacity


mapping the measure of America: largest cities

Here is a sophisticated interactive map with lots of background data on quality of life issues in America.  From what I can discern, the data indicators center on health, education and income.  I have pulled out some of the data for the country’s ten largest metropolitan areas from the map above into this home made chart below.

Now for a little editorializing.  I’m suspicious of any metric that excludes per capita energy consumption.  It’s easy to have ‘wellbeing’ if all your energy and infrastructure is paid for, or heavily subsidized, for instance, which is the case in most of America, including its cities.  It’s dramatically less the case in large metropolitan downtowns than in exurban areas, however.

Bearing this in mind, my index (I’ll call it betaCITY index)  would see higher scores for dense and efficient places like New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, and lower for loosely assembled places like Miami.  Of course, non-cities like LA and Houston would, by virtue of their relatively high per capita energy consumption, drop to the low end of the scale.

A second indicator that’s always missing in these metrics is cost of living.  In general New York loses points for being unaffordable, but not enough; I would correct for this oversight in my bC Index.

A proper measure of well being can’t exclude indications of irresponsible energy use and speculation.

Here is the chart:


Metropolitan Area
Miami
Los Angeles
Dallas
Houston
Atlanta
Chicago
Philadelphia
New York
Boston
Washington, DC

HDI Rank
5.46
5.60
5.11
5.02
5.53
5.61
5.70
6.26
6.55
6.94

Health
6.26
6.29
5.23
5.07
5.20
5.43
4.87
6.26
6.06
5.97

Education
5.33
5.27
4.78
4.60
5.77
5.68
5.93
6.03
6.98
7.29

Income
4.78
5.23
5.34
5.39
5.63
5.73
6.32
6.50
6.63
7.57

From the website –

The ten largest metropolitan areas are home to about one quarter of the country’s population.  Four metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C and New York are home to 19 of the 20 congressional districts with the highest levels of wellbeing in the country.  Only 2 of the bottom 20 congressional districts are found in two of the ten largest metro areas – New York’s 16th and Texas’s 29th.

Mapping the Measure of America

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