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Methodology




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General Livability Indicators

Weights*
Indicator
Methodology
Year
100 large
281 small
Cost of living
Median housing price/per capita personal income, †
Data sources: National Association of Realtors, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Moody's Analytics
2013 0.194 0.188
Crime rate
Violent and property crimes per 100,000 population, †
Data sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Illinois State Police Department
2014 0.127 0.127
Internet access
Percent of older adults with Internet access, ‡
Data sources: Census Bureau
2012 0.119 0.068
Employment growth
Indexed growth (2010-2015), ‡
Data sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Moody's Analytics
2010;
2015
0.124 0.121
Unemployment rate

Data sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Moody's Analytics
2015 0.079 0.108
Income distribution
Gini coefficient, †
Data sources: Census Bureau, Moody's Analytics
2014 0.049 0.051
Weather
Composite score using heating degree days, cooling degree days, humidity, sunshine, and
precipitation, ‡
Data sources: Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Milken Institute
2011 0.289 0.258
Fatal car crashes
Number of crashes involving a fatality, per capita, †
Data source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
2014 0.097 0.079
* Figures may not add up to 1 due to rounding. † The lowest value is ranked highest. ‡ The highest value is ranked highest.

We know that Americans overwhelmingly want to age in their own homes and communities,2 and a place that is good for older adults is good for people of all ages. Americans value certain general characteristics in their home regions, such as affordable cost of living, safety, and good weather. While these qualities may also pertain to our other categories (for example, employment growth may also pertain to the financial health of a region), we include them in the general category as overall quality-of-life and livability indicators.

The percentage of older adults with Internet access is a new variable that we include in the general indicator category, based on the increasing presence of technology in our society. The Internet can facilitate communication and reduce social isolation; computer literacy is a requirement for many jobs; and degrees can now be earned online. Because of its wide relevance, it is in the general category.

2 Harrell, R., Lynott, J., and Guzman, S., "What is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults," AARP Public Policy Institute, 2014.

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