population outlook – Illinois News
population outlook – Illinois News

population outlook – Illinois News

In theory, anyone in Arkansas could fit within the boundaries of a single county. For example, all 3 million of us could be adrift in western Lawrence County, divided by the Black River.

Think of everyone you know—all your Facebook friends, all your distant relatives and cousins, and the rest of the people in the other 74 counties—who settled in half of my home county.

Then what Arkansas would be in terms of population density would be Chicago.

Numerically, the Windy City has about the same population as the Natural State, but occupies only 227 square miles compared to the more than 53,000 within our borders.

But statistically, our 3 million people differ from our Chicago counterparts in many ways, as captured and detailed in Census Bureau data.

The percentage of people broken down by age group is similar among younger residents in Arkansas and Chicago: 6.0 and 6.1 percent, respectively, under 5; 23.2 and 20.5 percent under 18. Over 65, it drops to 17.5% for Arkansas and just 12.7% for Chicago.

In terms of race, Arkansas is less diverse than Chicago: 78% white, 16% black, and 8% Hispanic. For Chicago, it’s 48, 29, and 28.

Educationally, 87.2 percent of Arkansas residents have earned a high school diploma or higher, compared to 85.9 percent of Chicago residents; but 41 percent of them have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while only 23.8 percent of us have one.

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The Internet divide isn’t as wide as you might think: 77 percent of Arkansas homes have broadband, while 82.6 percent of Chicago homes do. And households with computers are about the same (88 and 90.4 percent, respectively).

Family and living arrangement statistics between Arkansas and Chicago are nearly identical for households, persons per household, and percentage living in the same home a year ago. But 35.5 percent of Chicagoans over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home, compared to just 7.6 percent of Arkansas residents.

Chicago surprisingly leads in terms of household and per capita income – but while Arkansas is often considered a high-poverty state, Chicago’s poverty rate is higher.

People are people, but how and where they live affects their lifestyle and behaviors. Arkansas and Chicago invest comparable amounts in education ($6 billion each), but our statewide student population is 460,000 and Chicago’s public school system is shrinking annually — from more than 73,000 students a decade ago at only 330,000, and enrollment is nearly 90% minority. Chicago’s graduation rate of 82 percent is also well below Arkansas’ 89 percent.

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In Arkansas, 2020 was a bad year for crime. Our 321 homicides this year were the most in state history, but they were spread across our vast geography. Even our smallest counties by land area are more than twice the square miles of Chicago, and nearly a third of our counties (24) have never seen a homicide.

But Chicago was home to 726 homicides that year, all of which occurred in a roughly 8 x 28 mile rectangle in a single neighborhood.

Most Arkansas residents probably have trouble imagining being crammed into an existence where the average population per square mile is greater than the population of 20 individual counties. Also, living in Arkansas, where outdoor encounters are the norm rather than the exception, can seem mind-boggling to Chicagoans.

But nature and natural habitats are not just a matter of preference; have a positive effect on human well-being. An entire cottage industry has sprung up around improving social inequalities in access to green space, supported by evidence of the benefits – and disadvantages, when insufficient – ​​for youth development and the health of older people.

In fact, Chicago ranks among urban competitors as a “garden city” because nearly all residents are within a 10-minute walk of a park. But plenty of Arkansans look straight out the window at green, park-like conditions. And Chicago’s 600 parks pale in comparison to the natural state’s countless rural amenities, from countless city and state parks to the pristine lakes and forests we take for granted.

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Instead, Chicagoans en masse must take for granted certain urban realities, conditions, and pathologies that can be traced back to eighteenth-century European metropolises rather than the American colonies.

London, at the time of the Constitutional Convention, packed nearly a million people into just a few square miles. Paris packed more than half a million French people into 13 square miles. These cumulative population densities created deplorable working-class living conditions and a cycle of hopeless social caste and stagnation—repressed by a cabal of horribly boastful kings—that early immigrants to America sought to escape.

Independence and self-government were not just rebellious ideas against the politics and taxes of the homeland. They were a rejection of centuries of unjust urban sprawl and squalor and toxic dependence on autocratic rulers. Equality of opportunity is at the heart of American exceptionalism, and we underestimate how extraordinarily exceptional that thinking really was.

Managing the slide of our densely populated cities towards this historic sense of urban blight is a major challenge of the 21st century.

Dana D. Kelley is a freelance writer in Jonesboro.

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Source : localtoday.news