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Introduction In presenting th e many map s that sho w how variou s aspect s o f America n societ y var y fro m state t o state , w e have a t least three goals . Th e first i s simpl y tha t presentin g thes e dat a 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 abou t 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 graphs that sho w ho w th e particula r indicato r ha s change d ove r th e years . A second goal is to cull from thes e many indicators a reasonable sample of reliable and important ones and put them together into a composite index by which the states may be ranked and mappe d i n term s o f overal l socia l well-being . Many suc h indice s exist , bu t w e believe that compiling composite indices of social well-being continues to be a fruitful exercise . Certainly it continue s t o be a popular researc h topic , and one that i s used i n public polic y advocacy . Two of th e maps in this atla s ar e themselves base d o n composite indices: the overall healt h index o f state s produce d b y Northwestern Mutua l Life , an d th e Kid s Coun t inde x produce d by the Anni e E . Case y Foundation . A third goal, very important to us as geographers, is to contribute to the continual examination of regional patterns in the United States. The maps in the atlas should be useful i n examining the persistence of traditional cultural regions or the emergence of new ones. The United States is ver y larg e an d ver y divers e i n it s physica l geograph y an d resourc e endowment , ye t i t i s closely knit through economic ties, rapid transportation, and instantaneous communication. When these ties are combined with the trademark mobility of the American people, a logical assumption might be that the old regional identities must weaken in the face of these forces for homogeneity. Many researchers , however , hav e demonstrate d tha t thi s i s no t th e case . Th e researc h mos t related t o this atla s i s the recent endeavo r b y geographe r Richar d L . Morrill t o demonstrat e the persistence of demographic regions. Morrill conclude d tha t the country coul d be divided into distinctive demographi c region s using suc h variable s a s age structure/mortality; fertility / abortion, an d lifestyle . H e concluded tha t th e "regiona l convergenc e tha t migh t be expecte d on th e basi s o f th e gradua l convergenc e o f income , educatio n an d urbanizatio n level s doe s not appea r t o hav e occurre d yet " (Morrill , 1990 , p. 52). 1 DATA RESOURCE S A large number of public and private organizations compile and distribute data relating to American society. The primary organization, of course, is the U.S. Census Bureau on which we relied for data for a number of maps, although where reliable data more recent than 1990 were available, we used those sources. To ensure reliability of data and standardized definitions an d categories of data, in many sections we relied primarily on a single source. The National Center for Education Statistics provide d dat a fo r mos t o f th e map s i n the two section s relate d t o education . Dat a from th e Centers fo r Diseas e Contro l an d Prevention i n Atlant a an d the National Cente r fo r Health Statistics in Bethesda, Maryland, were used for many of the maps in the sections related to health, disease , medical car e and lifestyle risks . Many othe r organizations als o granted us permission to use their data: Alan Guttmacher Institute, American Association of Retired Persons, American Correctiona l Association , America n...


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