Thursday, December 18, 2003

December 18, 2003

9:12 AM USA Today says that the “old labels” just don’t fit in the 21st century. A key excerpt:

As the U.S. population grows more diverse and as immigrants move up the economic ladder, race and ethnicity are becoming less important than education, income, home ownership, age and lifestyles. In fact, as Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans increasingly move to middle-class suburbs and prosperous neighborhoods, they’re identified more by their lifestyles and spending habits than by their ancestry.

The article goes on to note that the traditional categories are becoming increasingly irrelevant in describing American society. It describes how marketers are using demographic data to figure out what cars people will drive, what cereal their children will like, what TV shows they will watch, which restaurants they will frequent, and so on. The research has become so detailed that they can pinpoint the characteristics of people who live in a particular zip code. For instance, using this zip code look-up allows you to enter any zip code and find out the “population clusters” that live there. For instance, this is what I discovered when I entered 60302 for Oak Park. Our five top segments are “Money and Brains,” “American Dreams,” “Urban Achievers,” “Bohemian Mix,” and “Young Digerati.” What do those labels mean? You can click on each name and a complete definition is given. I checked the zip codes for River Forest and Forest Park and found similar clusters listed. But you could enter the zip code for anywhere in America. I checked out my hometown–Russellville, Alabama–zip code 35653–and this is what I found: Old Milltowns, Young & Rustic, Crossroads Villagers, Golden Ponds, Red, White & Blues. Pretty accurate, I’d say. To get a bigger picture of American society, click here. Then click on “Who are you? The Segments.” A set of boxes comes up that analyzes Americans by lifestyle and income segments. Oak Park is in the segment called “Uptown Urban.” The town where I grew up is at the other end of the spectrum–Middle America and Rustic Living. You could spend several hours playing with this, entering zip codes and reading the descriptions. I found it very helpful because the categories do seem to accurately describe where I grew up and where I live now. The first article I mentioned discusses some of the implications of this information, such as the fact that well-educated young people are moving back into the big cities. Inner-ring suburbs such as Oak Park are growing more prosperous and more diverse. Churches such as Calvary can use this data to think creatively about how to reach our communities for Christ. 8:27 AM Interested in creation and evolution? Check out this website or this one called World by Design. In the “World by Design” site, note the excellent “Links” section that will lead you to a vast array of creationist resources. In the “Articles” section there is a written debate on the age of the earth plus a discussion of “Does Evolution Make Bad People?”

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?