Visualizing socioeconomic disadvantage across US counties


When we create maps to view the spatial variation of socioeconomic status, we are typically only viewing the variation of one factor at a time (e.g. just income or just unemployment rate). I thought it would be useful to create and visualize a summary score of overall "socioeconomic disadvantage" from many socioeconomic indicators. Using publicly available county-level US Census data from 2005 I created the following map. I conducted a factor analysis to combine the following indicators into one disadvantage measurement:

  • Net 5-year population change
  • % residents with less than a bachelor's degree
  • % households with below $75,000 annual income
  • % residents living at or below the poverty line
  • Infant deaths per 1,000 live births
  • Medicare recipients per 100,000 residents
  • % residents that own their dwelling
  • Unemployment rate
US disad map

The three most disadvantaged counties were:
  1. McDowell County, West Virginia
  2. Owsley County, Kentucky
  3. Buffalo County, South Dakota
The three least disadvantaged counties were:
  1. Douglas County, Colorado
  2. Fairfax County, Virginia
  3. Loudoun County, Virigina
You can find the code here.

© Roni Kobrosly 2022