How Are Livability Scores Determined?
AARP intentionally designed its scoring criteria to draw on multiple, interconnected points to capture the complexity of what produces a high quality of life for a diverse population across many ages.
Metric values and policy points are scored for each of the seven livability categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. A location’s total livability score is an average of those seven category scores.
Understanding the Score
Each neighborhood, city, county, or state is scored on a scale from 0 to 100. The average location scores a 50. Those with more livability friendly practices earning above a 50 and those facing obstacles to livability scoring lower.
Can a Community Be Perfect?
In theory, yes, but in reality, no. Scores are built from the neighborhood level up. A total livability score of 100 means that place is the best in the country in meeting all the metrics and policies for each of the seven livability categories — and while ideal, no community scores 100 in all seven categories.
Challenges of Achieving High Livability Scores
It can be difficult to score highly across all categories, as issues surrounding livability are complex and interconnected. For example, a transit-rich neighborhood offers convenient options for getting around the community, but its amenities can drive up housing costs. To help that neighborhood score highly under Housing, Neighborhood and Transportation categories, a community could commit to ensuring affordable housing options are near public transit.
Cities, counties, and states also receive a score based on the average scores of neighborhoods within their boundaries. Most communities have a range of more- or less-livable neighborhoods, but for a community to get a high score, neighborhoods throughout it need to score well.
Categories contain metrics and policies and represent 7 key factors of livability within the AARP Livability Index. These categories are scored on a scale of 0-100 and each receive weight.
Livability Categories Explained
We spend more time in our homes than anywhere else, so housing costs, choices, and accessibility are critical. Great communities provide housing opportunities for people of all ages, incomes, and abilities, allowing everyone to live in a quality neighborhood regardless of their circumstances.
Housing is measured by metrics and policies that promote affordability, availability and accessibility.
Metrics measure how livable communities are in the present. Data is collected and analyzed from local, state, federal, and private sources.
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Policies measure how communities might become more livable over time based on actions taken now. Policy data is derived from publicly available data and information and covers the entire continental US, Alaska and Hawaii.
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Individual Preferences Reflected in the AARP Livability Index
- Personal preferences vary and change over time. AARP employs a variety of survey research to inform the selection of metrics and policies used in scoring. The intention is to reflect a wide range of preferences for people living at all stages of life.
- Discover Survey Findings:
We conducted a thorough vetting process to determine which metrics and policies best capture the broad nature of livability. We also gave great thought and consideration to the data sources and methodology used in scoring. We did this in partnership with experts from the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI), our consultant team, and PPI’s technical advisory committee, which includes 30 experts in public policy, community planning, public health, aging, environmental studies, consumer affairs, and economics. The result is a tool that sheds deep insight into what makes a community livable.
Explore the Score
We draw from more than 50 unique sources of data to create the AARP Livability Index. At the heart of the AARP Livability Index are 40 metrics and 21 policies.
Twenty-three of those metrics evaluate livability at the neighborhood scale (defined as the census block, block group, tract, or high school district), while the others use data sources at higher levels of geography (metro area, city, or county).
Sometimes we use a data source as-is to create a metric. In other cases, existing data require extra calculations or statistical modeling to produce the best measure of community livability. In some cases, the AARP Livability Index combines multiple sources or creates estimates when data aren’t available. This allows us to produce the best set of metrics to measure livability and to create a nationwide neighborhood AARP Livability Index.