Where to live? Liberal, conservative, & libertarian criteria differ.

In a line of research led by Matt Motyl, at the University of Virginia, we’ve been exploring ideological differences in preferences for where one lives.  This project is informed by a few ideas already out there.

Given these trends, we would expect liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to differ on what traits are most important in choosing a city to live in.  To test this, we asked participants to allocate 100 importance points to the 10 (out of  46) most important traits that they would use to judge a city.  The idea was to force people to make choices about what is and what is not important as most all of these traits are desirable.  The results, based on over 2000 youmorals.org visitors, largely follow common sense and are shown below with the traits preferred by liberals at the top and by conservatives at the bottom.  For the statistically minded among you, all correlations of .05 or higher are statistically significant.

Where to Live preferences for liberals, conservatives, and libertarians

Perhaps more interesting are the average number of points allocated by liberals, conservatives, moderates, and libertarians to each of these traits.  There is actually a great deal of consensus as to what is important (clean air/water, safety, job opportunities, medical care) even as there are differences (public transportation, family friendly, religiosity).  Also interesting is to note aspects of cities for which libertarians score highest (not too noisy, scientific community, many atheists), which dovetails well with our other research on libertarians.

Average points allocated by ideological group:

Where to Live Points Allocated

There are important plusses and minuses of using non-representative samples.  However, these results generally conform to popular wisdom about these groups, so while the means may differ in the general population, the overall patterns seem likely to generalize.  As with much of our research, the goal isn’t to determine which way of being or which city type is best, but rather to help people more explicitly make choices that may align with their value orientation.  I’m hopeful that the above lists will prove generative when people search the internet for ideas about where to live, a search which apparently is getting more and more common, according to Google Trends.

Where To Live Google Trends

- Ravi Iyer



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