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The Atlas of American Society

Alice C. Andrews
James W. Fonseca
Cartography and Graphic Design by Daniel F. Van Dorn
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 314
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  • Book Info
    The Atlas of American Society
    Book Description:

    Alice C. Andrews and James W. Fonseca, whose Atlas of American Higher Education was hailed for its unique approach to statistical information and whose research for this new Atlas has been prominently featured in the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe, here provide a geographic window onto the most pressing social issues of our time. Too often, information about America--its culture and politics, affluence and poverty, health and medical care, crime and education--is presented in the form of dry statistics that do not convey critical trends and patterns. In this unprecedented volume, two respected geographers present dozens of maps that depict, at a glance, the topography of America's social well-being. Among the many topics covered are: cultural diversity and immigration; income, poverty and unemployment; lifestyle risks including drug abuse, smoking and auto fatalities; access to medical care; medical costs; status of women, children, and senior citizens; marriage and divorce; teen pregnancy and non-marital births; school dropouts; abortion; death rates from AIDS, cancer, suicide and infant mortality; violent crime and homelessness. The Atlas of American Society maps out a comprehensive picture of an America rarely seen in such breadth.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-0787-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In presenting the many maps that show how various aspects of American society vary from state to state, we have at least three goals. The first is simply that presenting these data in map form has a value; people may see at a glance where their state stands relative to its neighbors and to its region. While the maps are of primary interest, the text that accompanies each map gives substantive information about the topic and many maps are also accompanied by graphs or tables. In many cases we have tried to add a temporal dimension through the use of...

  5. [Map]
    (pp. 7-8)
  6. 1 City and Countryside
    (pp. 9-20)

    In this atlas of American society, the primary focus is on people. Population distribution is the background against which all of the other maps in this atlas must be analyzed. The other maps attempt to show many aspects of American society, and particularly to show how measures of social well-being vary from state to state. The population size of the states, as well as their territorial size, varies greatly, depending both on the physical geography of the state and on the course of history, particularly the period in which the state was settled. What does it mean, for example, if...

  7. 2 Demographics
    (pp. 21-34)

    In this section on demographics, choropleth maps using different shadings for different values present some basic vital statistics (rates of birth, death, infant mortality, marriage, and divorce) and one of the most significant population characteristics (the sex ratio). Age, another basic characteristic, is treated in more detail in later sections on children and seniors.

    The most commonly used measure for comparing fertility is the birth rate—number of births per 1,000 population. It is properly called the crude birth rate, because it is not refined to account for the age and sex composition of the population. The birth rate for...

  8. 3 Migration, Mobility and Population Change
    (pp. 35-48)

    From 1980 to 1993, America’s population grew by 31,362,000, or 13.8 percent. These figures take into account natural increase (births minus deaths) and immigration. Population change is not at all evenly distributed among the states or regions. California had the greatest absolute gain, more than 7,500,000 people, followed by Florida with 4,000,000 and Texas with 3,800,000. Meanwhile West Virginia had an absolute loss of 135,000 people and Iowa lost 100,000. The highest rate of growth was in Nevada where a gain of 589,000 people translated into a population growth rate of 76 percent; Alaska (49%) and Arizona (45%) were similarly...

  9. 4 Affluence versus Poverty
    (pp. 49-64)

    The discussion of poverty versus affluence among the states of the United States logically begins with the geographical distribution of income. Median household income is shown as a three-year average from 1990 to 1992. Because of the economic recession, household income declined during these years. Census Bureau statisticians analyzed household incomes by comparing a two-year average from 1990–1991 with a two-year average for 1991–1992 (adjusted for inflation as shown by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI). The analysis showed that no state had an increase in income; 38 states and the District of Columbia showed no significant change,...

  10. 5 Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
    (pp. 65-76)

    This map uses data from aUSA TODAYarticle and map that appeared in April 1991. The newspaper's researchers ranked states in terms of their racial and ethnic diversity by devising a statistical index “based on the chance that two randomly selected people in a particular area are different from each other racially or ethnically.” The index used the Census Bureau categorization of the population by race and Hispanic origin. The four racial groups are white, black, Native American (American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut), and Asian and Pacific Islander. (The census also uses the category “other races,” not included in...

  11. 6 Health and Disease
    (pp. 77-96)

    The Northwestern National Life Insurance Company has developed a comprehensive ranking of the relative healthfulness of the 50 states based on 17 components that measure disease, lifestyle, access to health care, occupational safety and disability, and mortality. The 17 components include: prevalence of smoking; motor vehicle deaths; violent crime; risk for heart disease; high school graduation; unemployment; adequacy of prenatal care; lack of access to primary medical care; support for public health care; occupational fatalities; work disability status; heart disease; cancer cases; infectious disease; total mortality; infant mortality; and premature death. Many of these variables are mapped in this atlas....

  12. 7 Medical Care and Costs
    (pp. 97-116)

    Physician supply is not the sole criterion for judging the adequacy of health care; there are other demographic and socioeconomic variables that affect both availability and quality. The ratio of physicians to population, however, is certainly one of the most commonly used indicators and it is an important one. The value for the United States as a whole (about 260 physicians per 100,000 people), falls within the range of the top third of states on this map. This is because large numbers of doctors are concentrated in certain medical meccas, most of them in metropolitan areas, while many remote rural...

  13. 8 Lifestyle Risks
    (pp. 117-132)

    An examination of health care and disease would not be complete without reference to American lifestyle characteristics that affect health. Americans make choices in the lifestyle and use of leisure time that impact their personal health and in turn, the overall societal costs of health care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which compiled most of the data in this section, titled their 1991 study “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance.” Data are from a sample of thousands of adults across the United States (the number of those surveyed ranged from 1100 to 3400 by state).

    One lifestyle risk examined by...

  14. 9 Education K–12
    (pp. 133-146)

    The Head Start Program was part of the War on Poverty of the mid-1960s and is generally acknowledged to be the most successful and popular of a variety of programs that were authorized by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Other programs for low-income persons included, among others, the Job Corps, College Work Study, and VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), a domestic analogue to the Peace Corps. Head Start grew out of the realization that nearly half of the country’s poverty population were children, and most of them were under the age of 12. The program was popular because...

  15. 10 Higher Education
    (pp. 147-158)

    Higher education enrollments in fall 1992 in all public and private colleges at both the undergraduate and graduate levels totaled more than 14,491,000. Enrollments have reached record levels in each of the seven years up to and including 1992. The boom is predicted to continue. The primary cause of this growth is the “baby boomlet,” the wave of young people, children of the baby-boom generation, approaching age 18 who are graduating from high school. This phenomenon was discussed on Map 9.5, Projected High School Graduates. The wave of college-bound students should continue through the early years of the next decade....

  16. 11 Crime and Violence
    (pp. 159-170)

    The FBI’s crime index includes both violent crime and property crime. Violent crime includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; property crime includes burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. On average in 1992, 5,660 crimes were reported per 100,000 inhabitants for the country as a whole. Most crime is property crime, which accounts for 4,903 incidents per 100,000 population compared to 758 incidents for violent crime. The graph below shows how the crime rate skyrocketed from 1960 to the early 1980s, slowed a bit, and appears to be on the increase again.

    Areas with the highest crime rates,...

  17. 12 Status of Women
    (pp. 171-184)

    The Population Reference Bureau (PRB), with the support of the Ford Foundation, analyzed and published data on women from the Public Use Microdata Sample of the 1990 census, data that would otherwise have been unavailable due to budget cuts. Particularly valuable is the fact that the sample data analyzed and published by PRB are broken down not only by state but by racial and ethnic origin. One section in the data analysis was concerned with how income and poverty are changing for women. During the 1980s, women who worked increased their annual earnings by about 20 percent, compared with 3...

  18. 13 Children
    (pp. 185-198)

    This section on children begins with the most important variable: where are America’s children? Children are defined as those under eighteen years of age. As shown in the chart below, nationally, 25.9 percent of the American population falls in this category, far outnumbering the population of seniors. The population of children is further subdivided into those under five years old, 7.6 percent, and those between 5 and 18, 18.3 percent.

    The variation in the percentage of children among the states is significant; 36 percent of Utah’s population are children, but in Massachusetts only 23 percent. The east-west component of the...

  19. 14 Senior Citizens
    (pp. 199-210)

    The 1990 census counted more than 31 million persons over 65, making up 12.6 percent of the population. Thus one in eight citizens falls into the category of “the elderly,” or “senior citizens,” or “older adults.” It is projected that by the year 2010 this age group will increase to a total of over 39 million people. Our nation is aging in the same demographic process observed in all industrialized, urbanized, highly developed countries. In Japan, the percentage is about the same as in the United States, in Europe as a whole it is slightly higher, and in Sweden it...

  20. 15 Politics and Religion
    (pp. 211-220)

    The last few maps in this atlas deal with religion and politics, two very important aspects of American society that are also useful background for some of the other maps. In turn, some of the other maps are background for understanding how people vote. The association between religion and politics is a big topic in the 1990s. It is paradoxical that in a country that has been built on the separation of church and state, one cannot understand the political patterns without understanding the religious patterns, and sometimes vice versa. Religious convictions and strong political expressions of them exist about...

  21. 16 Summary and Conclusions
    (pp. 221-234)

    We conclude with a brief summary of each chapter, a composite ranking of the states based on seventeen important measures of social well-being, and reflections on the persistence of regional variables in the social well-being of the United States.

    In keeping with our three goals, the summary and conclusions are divided into three parts: a summary of the findings in each chapter, a composite map of seventeen selected indicators and an analysis of the map, and a commentary on the regional findings.

    There are several major generalizations about population distribution in the United States that are useful in interpreting all...

  22. Appendix of Tables
    (pp. 235-292)
  23. Sources
    (pp. 293-298)
  24. Index
    (pp. 299-304)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)