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US Lifestyles Segments

Smart Variables
In order to contribute to a meaningful ministry planning process that doesn’t bog down in the myriad data available, Percept has developed Smart Variables. Smart Variables combine individual data variables into a select set of themes relevant to understanding and telling the story of a particular mission context.
How Are Smart Variables Created?
It is important to note that many of the different Smart Variables are actually created from several different and more detailed variables. For instance, Smart Variable D6: Education Level is computed using three different sub-variables: High School Graduates, College Graduates and the percentage of the population enrolled in college. While you can easily review the details of each of these three breakdowns, your planning process will most likely become tedious should you spend much time in the details beyond the Smart Variable.
Smart Variable Descriptions
There are 19 Smart Variables that are organized into four simple thematic groupings: 1) People and Place, 2) Faces of Diversity, 3) Community Issues, and 4) Faith Preferences. Percept will always provide ethographic detail through reference reports such as Ministry Area Profile, Context Reference and Detail reports in the various levels of PeopleArea analysis. Smart Variables inform initial planning phases through summary information resources such as 10 Facts reports, FirstView, Context Status, and ImagineArea, FocalArea, and NeighborArea Study Guides. In some of these resources you will find Smart Variables referred to as Gap Themes (see Gap Themes in Glossary section). The 19 Smart Variables are listed as follows by their four thematic groupings, each with an explanation of the supporting data. They are labeled (P1, D3, F2, etc.) for easy product reference.
1) People and Place
Projected Population Density (P1)
Projected Population is the number of persons predicted to reside in a study area five years from now. The projected figure is based on past trends as well as the latest information available for an area, which would indicate the likely rate of future growth (or decline). The population density is computed by dividing the projected population in an area by the number of square miles. The national average for all populated areas in the United States is 200 persons per square mile.
Projected Population Change (P2)
Projected Population Change compares the current population with that projected five years from now. The projected figure is based on past trends as well as the latest information available for an area, which would indicate the likely rate of future growth (or decline).
Population Distribution (P3)
Across the nation, 75% of the population is gathered in approximately 25% of the population centers. If your area is more evenly spread out than this figure, it is referred to as dispersed. If the population in the study area is accumulated in fewer areas, it is referred to as concentrated. Areas which match this national ratio (75/25) are identified as having average distribution.
Diversity (P4)
The Diversity score is a composite Smart Variable. It is based upon a scoring methodology, which examines the presence and concentration of racial/ethnic population as well as the number and distribution of U.S. Lifestyles segments within an area. A score of 0 indicates an area with very little, if any, racial ethnic population, and few US Lifestyles segments, i.e., a homogeneous population. Conversely, a score of 10 indicates an area with a substantial racial/ethnic population and a large number of US Lifestyles segments with no individual segment dominating, i.e., a heterogeneous population.
Area Dynamic Level (P5)
The Area Dynamic Level (ADL) is computed by combining the Projected Population Density (P1) with the overall Diversity Score (P4) into a single score from 0 to 10. Areas with a score of 0 are referred to as Static indicating very little population and almost no diversity. Areas with scores of 10 are referred to as Transformational indicating extremely high population and diversity. Areas with typical population densities and diversity are referred to as average.
As the Area Dynamic Level increases, it indicates an increasingly complex and challenging environment given the large number of people and likely differences in lifestyle and racial/ethnicity.
2) Faces of Diversity
U.S. Lifestyles Group (D1)
Clustering similar U.S. Lifestyles Segments creates U.S. Lifestyles Groups. The U.S. Lifestyles Group designated “Primary” in your report represents the greatest number of households within the designated study area.
Group 1 Affluent Families consists of Segments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 14 (Abbreviation: Affluent). These segments are generally above average in income and education.
Group 2 Middle American Families consists of Segments 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 25, 28 (Abbreviation: Middle). These segments represent classic Middle America.
Group 3 Young and Coming consists of Segments 8, 12, 13, 15, 19, 34, 37, 39 and 47 (Abbreviation: Young). These segments are mostly (though not exclusively) comprised of young singles and couples in the beginnings of their career life.
Group 4 Rural Families consists of Segments 26, 27, 29, 33, 35, 38 (Abbreviation: Rural). These segments are comprised of mostly families in rural America working in primarily blue collar occupations.
Group 5 Senior Life consists of segments 7, 20, 21, 22, 30 and 31 (Abbreviation: Seniors). These segments consist mostly of senior and mature adults in or near retirement.
Group 6 Ethnic and Urban Diversity consists of segments 24, 32, 36, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 48 (Abbreviation: Diversity). These segments are found mostly (though not exclusively) in urban centers and reflect high racial/ethnic diversity.
Non-Anglo Population (D2)
All non-Anglo populations within a designated area. Consists of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American and Other.
Fastest Racial/Ethnic Growth (D3)
Indicates which of the five primary racial/ethnic groups is projected to grow at the highest rate over the next five years. The projections are based on past trends as well as the latest information available for an area, which would indicate the likely rate of future growth. By focusing the growth question on the fastest growing racial/ethnic group, you can obtain a better sense of how an environment is likely to change. Generally speaking, the group that is growing the fastest is likely to have a significant influence on the future ethos of the area examined.
Generation (D4)
Age groups defined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book, Generations (New York: William Morrow, 1991), which are characterized by a shared coming of age experience. The following generational descriptions are currently found on their website,
Builders (born 1901 to 1924) “The Builders (Strauss and Howe call this group the GI Generation) developed a special and “good kid” reputation as the beneficiaries of new playgrounds, scouting clubs, vitamins, and child-labor restrictions. They came of age with the sharpest rise in schooling ever recorded. As young adults, their uniformed corps patiently endured depression and heroically conquered foreign enemies. In a midlife subsidized by the G.I. Bill, they built gleaming suburbs, invented miracle vaccines, plugged “missile gaps,” and launched moon rockets. Their unprecedented grip on the Presidency began with a New Frontier, a Great Society, and Model Cities, but wore down through Vietnam, Watergate, deficits, and problems with “the vision thing.” As “senior citizens,” they safeguarded their own “entitlements” but had little influence over culture and values.”
Silents (born 1925 to 1942) “The Silent Generation grew up as the suffocated children of war and depression. They came of age just too late to be war heroes and just too early to be youthful free spirits. Instead, this early-marrying Lonely Crowd became the risk-averse technicians and professionals—as well as the sensitive rock ‘n rollers and civil-rights advocates—of a post-crisis era in which conformity seemed to be a sure ticket to success. Midlife was an anxious “passage” for a generation torn between stolid elders and passionate juniors. Their surge to power coincided with fragmenting families, cultural diversity, institutional complexity, and prolific litigation. They entered elderhood with unprecedented affluence, a “hip” style, and a reputation for indecision.”
Boomers (born 1943 to 1960) “The Boom Generation basked as children in Dr. Spock permissiveness, suburban conformism, Sputnik-era schooling, Beaver Cleaver friendliness, and Father Knows Best family order. From the Summer of Love to the Days of Rage, they came of age rebelling against the worldly blueprints of their parents. As their “flower child,” Black Panther, Weathermen, and Jesus Freak fringes proclaimed themselves arbiters of public morals, youth pathologies worsened—and SAT scores began a 17-year slide. In the early 1980s, many young adults became self-absorbed “yuppies” with mainstream careers but perfectionist lifestyles. Boomers entered midlife (and national power) trumpeting values, touting a “politics of meaning,” and waging scorched-earth Culture Wars.”
Survivors (born 1961 - 1981) “The Survivors (Strauss and Howe call this group Thirteeners, or the 13th Generation) survived a “hurried” childhood of divorce, latchkeys, open classrooms, devil-child movies, and a shift from G to R ratings. They came of age curtailing the earlier rise in youth crime and fall in test scores—yet heard themselves denounced as so wild and stupid as to put The Nation At Risk. As young adults, they maneuvered through a sexual battlescape of AIDS and blighted courtship rituals—they date and marry cautiously. In jobs, they embrace risk and prefer free agency over loyal corporatism. From grunge to hip-hop, their splintery culture reveals a hardened edge. Politically, they lean toward pragmatism and nonaffiliation, and would rather volunteer than vote. Widely criticized as “Xers” or “slackers,” they inhabit a Reality Bites economy of declining young-adult living standards.”
Millennials (born 1982 - 2001) “The Millennial Generation first arrived when “Babies on Board” signs appeared. As abortion and divorce rates ebbed, the popular culture began stigmatizing hands-off parental styles and recasting babies as special. Child abuse and child safety became hot topics, while books teaching virtues and values became best-sellers. Politicians defined adult issues (from tax cuts to deficits) in terms of their effects on children. Hollywood replaced cinematic child devils with child angels, and cable TV and the internet cordoned off “child-friendly” havens. While educators speak of “standards” and “cooperative learning,” school uniforms are surging in popularity. With adults viewing children more positively, U.S. test scores are faring better in international comparisons.”
Generation Z (born after 2001) Based upon the historic cycle explained in Generations this newest generation is expected to be adaptive and conforming, following the strong Millennials. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as the “New Silents”.
Family Structure (D5)
A scoring methodology which compares an area’s Marital Status and Households with Children configurations to the national average. A score of 0 indicates a very non-traditional family structure with high number of singles, divorcees and single parents. A score of 10 indicates a very traditional family structure with the majority of adults married and most households with children headed by married couples. A score of 5 indicates an area that overall is consistent with national averages.
Two variables are used to compute the score:
Population By Marital Status (Age 15 and Over) The national average in the 1990 Census was 54.8% Married.
Households With Children Age 0 to 18
The national average in the 1990 Census was 73.3% of Households with Children were headed r> by Married Couples.
Education (D6)
A scoring methodology which compares an area’s education levels to national averages. A score of 0 indicates an area with a low overall educational attainment. A score of 10 indicates an area with above average educational attainment. A score of 5 indicates an area that overall is consistent with national averages.
There are three variables used to compute this score:
Percentage of the Population Age 25 and older: Graduated from High School
Percentage of the Population Age 25 and older: Graduated from College
Percentage of the Population Age 3 and over
3) Community Issues
Primary Concerns (C1)
Thematically similar Concerns from Percept’s Ethos Survey are grouped and measured for a designated area. The High Index group is the group of concerns, which cumulatively exceed the national average for that particular group by more than any other group of concerns. The Primary Concerns Groups are:
The Basics include: Day-to-Day Financial Worries, Adequate Food, Affordable Housing, Employment Opportunities, Child Care, Health Insurance and Personal Health.
Family Problems include: Abusive Relationships, Teen/Child Problems, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Divorce and Aging Parent Care.
Community Problems include: Neighborhood Gangs, Racial/Ethnic Prejudice, Social Injustice, Neighborhood Crime and Safety, Finding Good Schools and Dealing with Problems in Schools.
Hopes and Dreams include: Achieving Financial Security, Better Quality Healthcare, Achieving a Fulfilling Marriage, Developing Parenting Skills, Achieving Educational Objectives, Finding a Satisfying Job/Career, Finding Time for Recreation/Leisure and Finding Retirement Opportunities.
Spiritual/Personal includes: Finding Life Direction, Finding a Good Church, Finding Spiritual Teaching, Dealing with Stress, Finding Companionship.
RISC Level (C2)
The RISC Score (Regionally Indexed Stress Conditions) is an indicator created explicitly for the purpose of identifying and assessing areas where there is likely to be a high level of social-economic community stress (particularly, related to children). While no single variable will create such stress, certain factors typically accompany such a condition.
Using U.S. Census data as well as Percept’s Ethos data base, the RISC Score measures the extent to which an area exhibits any or all of the following characteristics:
High Percentage of Households with Children Headed by Single Mothers
High Percentage of the Adult Population Which Has Not Completed High School
High Percentage of the Households with Annual Incomes below $15,000 (Poverty)
High Percentage of Households with Basic Concerns (i.e., Food, Housing, Health, Employment, etc.)
High Percentage of Households with Family Concerns (i.e., Drugs/Alcohol, Divorce, Abusive Relationships, Teen/Child Problems, etc.)
High Percentage of Households with Community Concerns (i.e., Gangs, Crime, Schools, Racial/Ethnic Prejudice).
Potential Resistance to Change (C3)
Potential Resistance to Change is computed by combining the overall Diversity Score for an area (P4) with the overall average age. The assumption is that as a group of persons becomes older and more diverse, the potential resistance to change is likely to increase.
4) Faith Preferences
Faith Receptivity (F1)
A scoring methodology which compares an area’s likely faith involvement levels and religious affiliation preferences to national averages. A score of 0 indicates an area with a low propensity for faith involvement and identification with historic Christian groups. A score of 10 indicates an area with above average likelihood of high faith involvement and identification with historic Christian groups. A score of 5 indicates an area that overall is consistent with national averages.
There are two variables used to compute this score:
Percentage of Households with Likelihood of Some or Strong Involvement with Their Faith.
Percentage of Households Likely to Prefer a Historic Christian Group. Historic Christian Groups include Adventist, Baptist, Catholic/Orthodox, Congregational, Episcopal, Holiness, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-Denominational, Pentecostal and Presbyterian/Reformed.
Financial Support Potential (F2)
A scoring methodology which compares an area’s average household income and propensity to contribute money to churches and religious organizations to national averages. A score of 0 indicates an area with below average household income and likelihood to give to churches. A score of 10 indicates an area with above average income and giving to churches. A score of 5 indicates an area that overall is consistent with national averages.
There are two variables used to compute this score:
Average Household Income.
Percentage of Households Likely to Give $500 or More Annually to Churches and Religious Organizations.
Church Style (F3)
The Church Style Smart Variable is a composite variable computed from Percept’s Ethos database combining Worship Style, Music Style and Church Architectural Style preference variables into an overall indicator of church style preference.
Church Program Preference (F4)
Percept’s Ethos Survey asked people to describe church programs and ministries they would find appealing if they were looking for a church. The 17 programs identified have been combined into four major categories. Nationally, programs in the Recreation category are the most preferred. The category shown for your area has the highest overall combination of actual number of households and above average comparison to the national average.
Spiritual Development
Bible Study Discussion and Prayer Groups
Adult Theological Discussion Groups
Spiritual Retreats
Personal Development
Marriage Enrichment Opportunities
Parent Training Programs
Twelve Step Programs
Divorce Recovery
Community/Social Services
Personal or Family Counseling
Care for the Terminally Ill
Food and Clothing Resources
Day Care Services
Church Sponsored Day-School
Youth Social Programs
Family Activities and Outings
Active Retirement Programs
Cultural Programs (Music, Drama, Art)
Sports or Camping
Religious Preference (F5)
In PERCEPT’S Ethos Surveys, respondents were asked to identify the general religious affiliation which best represented their preference. Following are national averages as a percentage of all households, which can be used as benchmarks. (Based upon 1998 Ethos Survey).
Historic Christian Groups 77.3%
Catholic/Orthodox 24.5%
Mainline Protestant (see below) 26.6%
Congregational 1.9%
Episcopal 2.9%
Lutheran 7.2%
Methodist 10.0%
Presbyterian/Reformed 4.6%
Conservative Protestant (see below) 26.2%
Adventist 0.5%
Baptist 15.6%
Holiness 0.8%
Non-Denom./Independent 6.9%
Pentecostal 2.4%
No Preference 14.9%
No Preference, but Interested 3.9%
No Preference and Not Interested 11.0%
Non-Historic Christian Groups 7.8%