2018 Report

Quality of Life Report

How are residents of the Kansas City area doing? According to the 2019 Quality of Life survey, more than three quarters of adults in the metro area (77 percent) rate their quality of life good or excellent. This is little changed from the 79 percent of residents rating their quality of life positively in 2018. Yet, perceptions of whether Greater Kansas City is headed in the right direction did improve significantly, as the proportion of adults with a positive view of the region’s direction increased from 57 percent in 2018 to 62 percent in 2019.  (Note: any change from 2018 described on this site as “significant” means it meets the criteria for statistical significance at the 90 percent level of confidence.)

This is just one of many stories that the new survey data tells. To learn more, click on the survey questions to the right and explore the answers, for the region as a whole or by demographic group. (Click on the down arrow under “Break down by” to choose or change a demographic group.) 

Some of the additional stories that emerge include:

  • Income is strongly related to perceptions of quality of life, with 93 percent of those earning $150,000 or more rating their quality of life as good or excellent compared to only 56 percent of those earning $25,000 or less. The situation is similar with education, as 90 percent or more those with a bachelor’s degree or higher rate their quality of life positively, compared to only 64 percent of those with a high school degree.
  • Age is also positively related to perceptions of quality of life, with the share of older adults (65 or more years) rating their quality of life as good or excellent at 88 percent compared to only 70 percent for young adults (18-24 years). In fact, young adults appear to have experienced a significant decline in their quality of life. In 2018, 86 percent of young adults rated their quality of life good or excellent, which was the highest of any age group. By contrast, the percent of young adults rating their quality of life positively in 2019 was the lowest of any age group. Young adults were also one of the few demographic groups whose perception of positive progress in the Kansas City area declined, as the percentage of young adults saying it was headed in the right direction dropped from 74 percent to 68 percent, though this change was not statistically significant. These declines in perceived quality of life seem to be most related to deteriorating views of the economy in their community, which fell from 69 percent rating it as good or excellent in 2018 to 59 percent in 2019, a change that falls within 1 percentage point of being statistically significant.    
  • Large racial disparities in quality of life continued. In 2019, 82 percent of whites rated their quality of life good or excellent, compared to 72 percent of Latinos, Asians and other minorities and 62 percent of blacks. This ranking order — with whites at the top, blacks on the bottom and Latinos and Asians in between — appears repeatedly across many survey questions. This is especially true in their rating of their communities.
  • The quality of life for blacks appears to have made progress in the last year while the quality of life for Latinos, Asians and other minorities appears to have declined. In 2018, only 52 percent of blacks rated their quality of life positively, a substantial difference from 2019’s value that is just shy of being statistically significant, given the relatively small sample. However, this progress was not shared by Latinos, Asians and other minorities; in 2018, fully 80 percent of them had a favorable view of their quality of life.   
  • When residents were asked to choose the one service or amenity they would most like to see more of from a list of 15 options, transit rose to the top, being selected by 24 percent of residents — twice as high a share as trails, the next most sought-after amenity. Fully 50 percent of residents selected at least one of a group of six amenities dealing with being outdoors and recreating (including trails) as most important. The level of support for additional transit was highest for middle-aged and older adults, for whites, for those with high incomes and for those with high levels of education.

The interactive charts on this website report the 2019 survey results, though significant changes since 2018 are also highlighted in the text.  The full set of 2018 results for comparison can be found here. (Note: figures for the 2019 charts were calculated as percent of those who answered the question, while 2018 figures also included those who refused. For consistency, when 2018 figures are cited in the text, those figures exclude the refusals. The 2018 website, though, remains as it was originally published and so still includes them in its calculations. The interactive nature of the website makes it possible to see the percentages with refusals excluded, however, by first clicking on “refused” in a chart legend and then clicking on the option to “exclude.”)

As in 2018, quality of life ratings can be broken down by gender, income, educational attainment, employment status and county, in addition to age and race. New for 2019 is the ability to also see results by marital status, homeownership and whether there is a child in the home.

The 2019 Kansas City Quality of Life Survey was conducted in January 2019 among 1,000 randomly selected adults residing in the Kansas City area, defined for survey purposes as Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri. The content is similar to the 2018 survey, though not identical. Both were funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to better monitor quality of life issues in the Kansas City area. The Foundation contracted with the Mid-America Regional Council to bring this data to the community in a more accessible format so that residents, businesses, elected officials and other decision-makers could benefit from its content.