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The Atlas of American Society

Alice Andrews, James Fonseca

Publication Year: 1995

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.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix

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pp. 1-7

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...

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1. City and Countryside

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pp. 9-19

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...

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2. Demographics

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pp. 21-33

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...

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3. Migration, Mobility and Population Change

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pp. 35-47

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...

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4. Affluence versus Poverty

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pp. 49-63

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...

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5. Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

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pp. 65-75

This map uses data from a USA TODAY article 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...

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6. Health and Disease

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pp. 77-95

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...

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7. Medical Care and Costs

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pp. 97-115

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...

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8. Lifestyle Risks

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pp. 117-131

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...

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9. Education K–12

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pp. 133-145

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...

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10. Higher Education

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pp. 147-157

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...

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11. Crime and Violence

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pp. 159-169

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...

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12. Status of Women

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pp. 171-183

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...

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13. Children

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pp. 185-197

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...

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14. Senior Citizens

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pp. 199-209

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...

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15. Politics and Religion

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pp. 211-219

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...

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16. Summary and Conclusions

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pp. 221-233

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...

Appendix of Tables

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pp. 235-292


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pp. 293-297


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pp. 299-303

E-ISBN-13: 9780814707876
E-ISBN-10: 0814707874
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814726266
Print-ISBN-10: 0814726267

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 1995

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1980- -- Statistics.
  • United States -- Population -- Statistics.
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