Super Zips, Revisited

17 05 2016

Richmond Heights

Something I was thinking about this morning made me go back and revisit my own post about Charles Murray’s “Super Zips” research and data, then from there revisit the research and data.

Since the last time I wrote and thought about it, I have moved.  I was living in 63011 (Ballwin) at the time, and until early March, and its score was a very respectable 90.  Remember, every zip code gets a score from 1 to 99, based on a mashup of the zip code’s median household income and the zip code’s percentage of adults who have a college diploma.  A zip code of 95 or higher is defined as a Super Zip, so my zip code at the time was only five points away from being super.

I now live in 63117 (Richmond Heights), which only scores a 79.

How much worse is a 79 than a 90?  I cannot find the calculated standard deviation of zip code scores, (I do have a tweet into Charles Murray himself, hopefully he’ll know), but I do remember the Rule of Six when you need a quick and dirty standard deviation:  Top minus bottom divide by six.  This means I get a standard deviation of (99-1)/6, or 16.33.  Since my new zip is 11 points lower than my old zip, this means I have moved down in the world by (11/16.33), or about two-thirds, of a SD.

Two-thirds of a SD isn’t chump change.  My new area should be noticeably less good (as in both aren’t anywhere near bad) than my old area.  Yet, I really don’t grok a difference.  Even more head scratching is that 63144 (Brentwood) scores at 85, higher than RH, but visually less pleasant, and substantively a half a step down IMHO.

Does that point to limitations to Charles Murray’s research?  Or does it point to a possibility or the need to refine the criteria?

Not only do I not see any real difference between new and old, personally, I’m actually better off.  The rent is slightly lower, the square footage is slightly higher, and the commute, when I’m home, is way shorter.  And that points to another social axiom:  When people buy or rent domiciles, they’re not necessarily buying a building, or land, or features, or even a neighborhood, they’re buying classmates and a peer group for their children.  Want proof of that?  This same living space in this same kind of residential structure on this same kind of street north of Clayton Road rents for way higher.  Why?  School district.  North of Clayton Road is the city of Clayton, and zip code of 63105 (Murray Score of 95, meaning it’s a super zip, and it would be higher but for county jail inmates being counted as residents of the zip code and therefore dragging down its educational and household income averages), and most crucially, the Clayton School District, where the kids of university professors and physician specialists attend.  Where I am, definitely south of Clayton Road, is not only the city of Richmond Heights, but it and Maplewood share a school district, and as you St. Louisans know, Maplewood, blech.  For those who don’t know, Maplewood is about an even mix of lower class black and lower to working class white, trending toward the former, and they’re in the same school district with Richmond Heights, the whole district only has one high school, that being Puggg’s alma mater.  And as we know about mixing shit and vanilla ice cream…

You may think that you have figured out why 63117 has a lower Murray Score than 63011, because of Maplewood.  Actually, Maplewood has its own zip code, 63143, with a Murray Score of 41.

Incidentally, there has been chatter for a long time about Clayton municipally subsuming Richmond Heights.  If that happens, it wouldn’t solve the school district problem by itself, but I think it would be political predication for RH ditching Maplewood and joining the Clayton School District.  Which wouldn’t be hard, because the only high school in the MRH district is in Maplewood, and in fact, the district’s only middle school is also in Maplewood and next to the high school, and the district’s only elementary school is technically in RH, but this close actually to being in Maplewood; there are zero MRH schools in the part of RH north of 40.  If Clayton subsumes RH in a muni sense, then it would create political pressure for RH to be part of the Clayton School District.  It would mean that buying in RH also means buying in the CSD, meaning much higher selling prices and rents.  But, by the time that happens, I’ll probably be living somewhere else.

Incidentally, my previous abode in Ballwin was in the Rockwood School District.  Also, 63136, the zip code of the Fergaza Strip, comes through with a world beating Murray Score of 9.


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9 responses

17 05 2016
Cranmer

I looked up my zip (Chesterworld 63017 [the poor side]) and we are 94. Missed it by that much! I was thinking what could have brought us down. Apartments. There are several apartment farms all within the chesterfield parkway circle, and they are getting bad. My wife and I almost bought a house on highcroft where single occupancy meets denser residential, and I am glad we didn’t.
I was talking to a like minded south countian, and we were trying to figure out why you see ‘greens’ (my family’s personal euphemism for blacks) all over now. When I graduated from the biggest Christian/non parochial school over 20 years ago, you never saw them in west county. Ever.
My friend from SoCo thinks they have more cars now. Thoughts?

17 05 2016
countenance

The bus lines to middle Chesterfield are sparse, so they have to have their own cars.

With South County, it’s the bus lines. That and Holy Tony’s has quite a few black service workers. The diversity that’s overtaking Carondelet is spreading south. AFFH will only make it worse for both South County and Chesterfield, because by definition, all the school districts in south and west county are considered better than the SLPS.

17 05 2016
Cranmer

Isn’t every school district outside of SLPS (and Ferg/Flo, riverview, Normandy &Jennings ) better?

On a side note, I miss the old commercials for the city of Florissant with the old mayor. Talking about how beautiful and mayberryesque it is. My friends and I used to joke that their tag line should have been ‘Florissant: We don’t have as many blacks as you think!’

So if I was to move my family, is far out St Chas my best option, or Jeffco? I never thought I would be considering imperial, but it doesn’t get much more diversity free than that.

17 05 2016
countenance

By Florissant Mayor, I hope you mean James Eagan, not the asshole Lowery.

Now that we know AFFH is on the way, I actually think these days anywhere in Jefferson County will be a better bet. Best that you should subject yourself to the law enforcement whims of Puggg.

17 05 2016
Thomas

My own Kirkwood (63122) is only 90. Thanks Meacham Park. Oh well, it does help the old High School have a state contender in football almost every year.

17 05 2016
countenance

Kirkwood scores higher than it looks, even backing out Meacham Park. I’ve written myself here that pound for pound, Kirkwood is the snootiest place in St. Louis County.

17 05 2016
countenance

I think I have figured out a problem with the original research: I don’t know if CM figured this in, but regional cost of living. $200,000 of household income goes a lot further in St. Louis super zips than Manhattan super zips.

17 05 2016
Puggg

I hear you all talking about me behind my back. Remember that I have a baton and I know how to use it.

18 05 2016
countenance

I missed it before. It was hiding in front of me in plain sight.

Before I start, remember that a Murray Score of 79 is still very very good. All I’m wondering is why it’s 79 instead of 90.

My particular part of Richmond Heights (without getting too specific, I’ll say that I’m in the area between Clayton, Big Bend, 40 and Boland), is one with a lot of rental units. And as you can figure out, I’m close to WU. Now, WU students who don’t live on campus tend to prefer U-City and the West End, but there are some who live around here. And that’s one of the factors: They are college students, not college graduates, and Murray Scores mash up household income and college graduation rates. The other significant Richmond Heights demographic is middle income upper middle aged and retired white people. Not the highest income people, and they were 17-23 years old back when college attendance was not as near-ubiquitous as it is now. So, their college diploma rates are lower.

What Richmond Heights doesn’t have many of are middle aged college graduates who are in the peak of their earning power, with children. And that goes back to the school district problem. Except RH does have a pretty tony neighborhood west of Boland, in the box between Clayton, Boland, 40 and Hanley. But, since RH has a relative paucity of them, and that’s the wheel house demographic that in Charles Murray terms makes a Super Zip, that’s going to keep 63117 from getting into the 90s.




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