My Neighborhood Doesn’t Reflect My Nation

One of the advantages of social media is that folks with different views post their different opinions.  One of the disadvantages is that those different opinions come from different – often very different – locations. 

Let’s take climate change opinions for a simple example – I live just a touch south of the 49th parallel and a little over 3,000 feet above sea level.  Simple facts are that raising the sea level by a couple hundred feet isn’t going to affect my place.  Getting another three weeks of growing season is a positive thing for my garden.  If I were living in Paramaribo, just a little north of the equator and about 6 feet above sea level, my perspective would be different.  My greatest risk is wildfire – in Paramaribo even the dry season is rainy.

One of the readily available measurements of population is the percentage of foreign-born residents in a community.  In San Francisco, 34.4% of the population were born outside the United States.  Statewide, 26.9% of California residents were born outside the US.  Here in Lincoln County, Montana 2.6% of our population are foreign born (and I suspect half of those are Canadian).  It makes for a different point of view.

Race?  I live in a state where most of the population is white, and the second largest group is American Indian (6.6%).  Contrast that with Washington DC, where the Black population is 46.4% (compared to Montana’s 0.6%).  West Virginia somehow has the lowest percentage of foreign born residents and the lowest percentage of American Indian population.  Maine (94.6%) is the whitest state.  I have a hunch that who your neighbors are might affect your viewpoint.

18.7% of Montana’s population is over 65 – and five states are even higher.  Just 11.1% of Utah’s population is over 65.  (29.5% of Utah is under 18).  Who you see around you affects your perspective. More information is available at

Washington DC has the nation’s highest median household income – $92,266 . . . but it is skewed by race.  The median for Black households is $42,161, while the white median is $134,358.  Montana’s median household income was $65,712.  Mississippi came in last at $45,081.

West Virginia has the highest home ownership rate – 74.6%, while Montana’s rate is 69.7%.  Home ownership rate in Washington DC is around 42.5%.

Just a few spots where we can look at how our locality affects how we perceive the universe.

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