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Methodology




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The United States is rapidly changing in terms of demographics, technology, values, and ideals. With each iteration of the "Best Cities for Successful Aging" report, we update our index and data to reflect the evolving needs, priorities, and interests of the U.S. population. "Best Cities" seeks to identify age-friendly metropolitan areas through measurable data, showcase innovative programs, and increase the reach and relevance of the study. Each metro area receives three rankings: for all adults age 65 and over, for those in the 65-79 range, and for those 80 and older.

The 2017 index is similar to our 2012 and 2014 reports, but we have refined our ranking methodology, using current research and the expertise of the Milken Institute and the Center for the Future of Aging Advisory Board. Due to changes in index methodology and the changing availability of public data, we recommend caution in comparing the 2017 index to earlier versions.


Included Metros

The 2017 BCSA index includes 381 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs or metros). Metros are geographic regions, defined by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that are economically and socially integrated with a core urban area. They often are denoted by their largest city or cities, e.g. "Jacksonville, Fla.," or "Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.," and consist of one or more counties. This report uses OMB's 2013 metro delineations, which are based on the 2010 U.S. Census. We were able to increase the number of examined metros from 352 in 2014 to 381 in 2017 based on increased data quality and availability.

We did not include metros in Puerto Rico or the Enid, Okla., metro due to insufficient data. Metros were categorized as large or small based on 2014 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau: the 100 with the largest population were deemed "large metros," and the rest "small metros." These categories are compared separately; we name a top large and top small metro in each new report. Two metros have changed categories since 2014: Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash., moving from the large to the small classification, and Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., from the small to the large category. All newly included metros are small metros.