Friday, February 19, 2010

Not a crescent

In the Grand Crescent post, I postulated that Denver, as an outlier, was where it was because Denver County (which is also Denver City) would be following more the pattern of a large metropolis, then following the pattern of a county in a western state.

I just made that up when I typed it, but it sounded good.

But of course, then I started wondering, so I wanted to plot the high school versus college rates of some of the US' biggest cities. I chose 30 as my number (mostly so Portland could be on there), and started digging for data.
Cities, as demographic units, are not very good. There tends to be lots of artifacts in the data, depending on how the city borders are drawn. Two metro areas might have similar demographics, but the largest city in both of them might exclude or include suburbs. For example, Detroit metro and Portland metro might be more similar than someone would guess, but whereas many of Portland's wealthy areas (The West Hills for example) are included in the city, in Detroit those areas are, I believe, separate suburbs. So this data has problems. All data has problems.
The first thing to notice about this data:
It has a more predictable X=Y shape, although one that is spread out irregularly.
There seems to be a little bit of evidence that parts of the Western States are both well educated, and egalitarian about it. Not a lot, though. Although the five cities in the upper right do have two things in common: they are smaller, and they are outside the most traditional urbanized areas of the United States.
Actually, the most obvious thing that jumps out at me is size, which I should probably do another plot for. NYC, LA, Chicago and Houston, the 4 biggest cities, are all clustered pretty close together. They all have low education levels, and within what they do have, are more "elitist" in the sense of having lots of college graduates for the amount of high school graduates.
I actually am probably going to run plots on these numbers for a number of different factors. Sometimes soon!

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