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  • Assignment 5 Stern


Is Socioeconomic Status in Chicago Correlated to Proximity to CTA stations?

The question I am interested in answering is if proximity to CTA rapid transit stations correlates with socioeconomic status. The factors that contribute to socioeconomic status are income and education. So, in order to answer this question, I intend to look at US census data from 2000 for each category associated with socioeconomic status.

In order to analyze the data, I first selected the 2000 US Census tracts that are within a quarter mile of CTA stations within the city of Chicago using the “select by location” tool.  Then I made a layer from the selected tracts.  After the layer was created I labeled it “2000 Census within .25 Miles”.

Now, using the “Statistics” tool under selection, I obtained the “mean earnings” for the layer comprised of tracts that are within .25 miles of a CTA station and the same statistic for the entire city of Chicago.

For the selected layer:

For the whole city:

In looking at the mean earnings data for each of the selected areas, the mean earnings for the areas within a quarter mile of a CTA station are $2,800 higher.  This is statistically significant because it shows that those who live within a quarter mile of CTA stations earn about 5.5% more per year.

To look at educational level, I’m going to analyze the percentage of College and High school graduates living in the selected layer (within .25 miles) and in the City as a whole.

Percent College Grads within .25 Miles:

Percent College Grads for the whole city:

Percent High School Grads within .25 miles:

Percent High School Grads for the whole city:


In terms of education discrepancies between those who live within .25 miles of a CTA station and those outside that radius, there doesn’t seem to a be a significant difference in the number of people who have graduated from high school ( about .6%). However, those living within a quarter mile of rapid rail transit in Chicago are 5.6% more likely to have graduated from college.

Overall, there seems to be a slight correlation between the proximity to mass transit and socioeconomic status. There are several potential errors. First, the data does not take into account bus stations, which are an inexpensive means of transportation that it would be interesting to look at and see the effects of in a study such  as this one.  Second, mean earnings do not take into account income after taxes. There is a very small chance that this influenced the results of the statistical analyses.  Another interesting fact to take into account would be proximity to parkland, open spaces or landmarks to see if the socioeconomic effect is even more exaggerated.  Finally, there seems to a be a general discrepancy between the north and south sides of Chicago which could lead to the skewing of the results. Furthermore, not only does the north side have higher earnings but it also has a greater concentration of CTA stations, which could make the analysis even less accurate.

Mean Earnings map:

Percent College Grads Map: