Des Moines, Iowa, Leads U.S. Metro Areas in Community Pride
Well-Being

Des Moines, Iowa, Leads U.S. Metro Areas in Community Pride

by Rebecca Riffkin

Story Highlights

  • Three in four Des Moines residents proud of their community
  • Scranton residents have the lowest pride, at 50%
  • New Orleans residents most likely to get community recognition

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Residents of Des Moines, Iowa, are the most likely to say they are proud of their community, of the 100 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas that Gallup and Healthways surveyed in 2014. More than three-quarters of residents in the Des Moines area agree with the statement that they are proud of the community or area where they live. At the other end of the spectrum, residents of Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, are the least likely to express hometown pride, with just half agreeing.

Communities With the Highest and Lowest Reported Pride

Greenville, South Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; Provo, Utah; and Raleigh, North Carolina, round out the top five metro areas with the most community pride. Youngstown, Ohio; Stockton, California; Fresno, California; and Toledo, Ohio, complete the five metro areas with the least pride. A full list of the 100 communities Gallup and Healthways measured can be found at the end of this article.

These findings are based on interviews collected throughout 2014 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Americans were asked to use a five-point scale -- where 5 means strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree -- to rate their level of agreement with the following statement: You are proud of your community or the area where you live. Nationally, 63.5% of Americans responded with a 4 or 5 rating.

In the 10 metro areas leading in community pride, at least seven in 10 residents agree they are proud of where they live. Among the bottom 10, less than 56% agree, but this still means that at least half of residents in each of the 100 largest metropolitan areas feel proud of their community.

Perceptions of Safety and Security Strongly Linked to Community Pride

Americans' pride in their local community is related to a wide variety of factors -- one factor is their ratings about how safe and secure they feel. Nationally, 91.3% of Americans who reported feeling safe and secure also reported being proud of their community, while just 2% of those who reported they did not feel safe and secure were proud of their community.

Given that relationship, there is some overlap between communities that rank among the best and worst in terms of residents' community pride and their feelings of safety and security. Overall, four of the communities with the highest levels of pride are among the communities in the U.S. with the highest percentage of residents who feel safe and secure: Des Moines, Iowa; Raleigh, North Carolina; Provo, Utah; and Omaha, Nebraska. And six of the communities with the lowest pride are among those with the lowest safety and security rating: Fresno, California; Stockton, California; Bakersfield, California; Memphis, Tennessee; Youngstown, Ohio; and Toledo, Ohio.

New Orleans Residents Most Likely to Receive Recognition for Helping Community

Gallup also asks Americans if they have been recognized for giving back to their community -- as a way to measure local volunteerism and community service. Residents of New Orleans, Louisiana, are the most likely to agree they received recognition in the last 12 months for helping to improve the city or area where they live, with 28.1% saying they had been recognized. New Orleans is followed by Asheville, North Carolina; Bakersfield, California; Anchorage, Alaska; and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California.

Communities With Highest and Lowest Community Recognition

Since Hurricane Katrina, volunteers and community service organizations have aided in the effort to rebuild New Orleans. And recently, the city was recognized by CNCS, the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program, for being among the top 10 large U.S. cities that produce the highest number of AmeriCorps members per capita. Whether the relatively high rate of civic activity in New Orleans is entirely an outgrowth of the hurricane or if civic duty predates the hurricane isn't clear, but at this point, it is fairly common for New Orleans residents to feel appreciated for giving back to their community, with almost three in 10 agreeing they have been recognized.

Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas-Missouri, is the city where residents are the least likely to have been recognized for helping their community, at 12.5%. Provo, Utah, one of the cities with the highest reported community pride, also has some of the lowest levels of reported recognition for helping their community, at 14.1%. Another Utah community, Ogden, is also in the bottom five for community recognition, as are Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Nationally, 19.1% of Americans agreed they have "received recognition for helping to improve the city or area where you live," responding with a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale.

Bottom Line

Residents who give back to their community can improve other aspects of their well-being. Volunteering can introduce residents to new friends -- improving social well-being. It also can give residents a stronger sense of purpose. Indeed, Gallup and Healthways have previously found that Americans who have been recognized for giving back to their communities have higher well-being than those who have not.

While the percentage of residents who are proud of their community varies around the country, at least half of residents in each of the 100 most populous metro areas in the U.S. said they had pride in their community.

There is a strong link between residents' perceptions of feeling safe and secure and their level of community pride. Communities where pride is lacking could work to improve security as a way to improve pride. However, it may be that communities with less pride are also places where crime is more pervasive because people feel less attachment and shared sense of community with their neighbors. Programs focused on increasing local pride could also help residents feel more invested in their community and less inclined to commit crime, thus increasing security.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2-Dec. 29, 2014, with a random sample of 176,702 adults, aged 18 and older, living in metropolitan areas in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Unlike previous years, only the 100 most populous metros -- as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau -- were reported in 2014. A second requirement is that at least 300 cases are required per metro area for reporting. As such, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, and Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, were both excluded from reporting because of insufficient sample size. These were replaced by the 102nd-largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the U.S.: Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The "communities" referenced in this article are based on MSAs as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. In many cases, more than one city is included in the same MSA. The San Jose, California, MSA, for example, also includes the smaller nearby cities of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara in addition to San Jose. Each respondent is attributed to his or her MSA based on self-reports of his or her ZIP code.

Maximum margins of error for the Well-Being Index and the element scores vary according to MSA size, ranging from less than 1 point for the largest cities represented to around ±1.5 points for many of the smallest cities.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index works.

Pride -- Full Chart

Recognition -- Full Chart

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