DataHaven Media Advisory - October 1, 2013

Greater New Haven Community Index assesses region’s quality of life trends

The Greater New Haven Community Index 2013: Benchmarking the People, Economic Opportunity, Health Needs, and Civic Life of Our Region was published today by DataHaven and a group of community, government, and scientific partners. The report, which is available online, is believed to be the most comprehensive ever in the Greater New Haven region. For the first time, the Greater New Haven Community Index describes demographic change, education, economics, health, and civic life in our metropolitan area and its neighborhoods. The index ranks the Greater New Haven region as the 19th best-performing metropolitan region out of the 130 largest U.S. urban areas.

“The Community Index uses the most current and accurate neighborhood statistics – in many cases broken down in detail for the first time – to illustrate the opportunities and challenges that face the area where we live, work, and play,” said Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven and the report’s lead author. The report highlights the strong interrelationships between factors that influence quality of life and happiness. For example, while schools are important, academic achievement is largely predicted by the health of the students and their families and the wellbeing of the neighborhoods where they grow up. The report also shows that the prosperity of older adults increasingly depends on the ability of our region’s children and young adults to achieve success themselves. Other notable highlights:

  • Greater New Haven is as diverse as the nation as a whole. One in three residents identifies as a race or ethnicity other than “White,” up from one in five in 1990.
  • Our population is aging, raising concerns about the region’s ability to attract and retain a youthful workforce.
  • The region has a highly-educated population, with test scores and high school graduation rates increasing at the State average rate in most areas. Students in Connecticut and in outer suburbs, and students in the City of New Haven who identify as “White,” graduate at rates that are already above the Federal Government’s “Healthy People 2020” target of 82 percent. But low income students are significantly less likely to graduate.
  • The prosperity of suburban towns increasingly depends on the growing number of jobs located within the City of New Haven. Most commuters who hold jobs within a 2 mile radius of New Haven City Hall – 62 percent – hold a “living wage” job. But only 38 percent of employed workers who live within that same area hold one.
  • Greater New Haven is a healthy region, relative to the United States. However, rates of mortality and morbidity in low-income neighborhoods are significantly higher than in surrounding areas, with access to healthy foods, exercise, and safe neighborhoods among the factors identified as key public health concerns.
  • Citizens are confident in their ability to make Greater New Haven a better place. Most residents volunteer, contribute to local causes, and believe that their neighbors would mobilize to take action when needed.

In addition to mining government data sources, the report shares data from two simultaneous field surveys conducted in 2012 by DataHaven and the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health. Additional co-authors and sponsors, including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the New Haven Health Department, intend to update the Community Index on a regular basis, and use it to create regional “action plans,” identifying how government and business leaders can best measure and accelerate the region’s forward progress. Additional funders included the Carolyn Foundation, United Way of Greater New Haven, NewAlliance Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, The United Illuminating Company and Southern Connecticut Gas, as well as the Donaghue Foundation and Kresge Foundation, which support CARE.