2019 Report

Quality of Life Report

How are residents of the Kansas City area doing? According to the 2018 Quality of Life survey, nearly 80 percent of residents in the Kansas City area rate their quality of life good or excellent.

This assessment isn’t universally shared, however. For example, this figure falls to 75 percent for those with a vocational or technical education, to 70 percent for adults 35-44 years of age, and to just over 50 percent for blacks. On the other hand, more than 90 percent of those with high annual incomes ($100,000 or above) say their quality of life is good or better. (To see the quality of life ratings of these and other demographic groups, click on the drop-down menu in the interactive visualization below under “Break Down by.”)

We can begin to understand why different groups might rate their quality of life differently by clicking on the links to survey questions to the right. A quick examination suggests, for example:

  • For adults 35-44, their feelings about the quality of K-12 education seem to be adversely affecting their quality of life rating.
    This age group is most likely to have school-aged children, so it is not surprising that they are also the most likely to say family health and safety is the most important factor affecting their quality of life. Compared to other age groups, they are far more likely to say education and public schools are the most important community issue — and also more likely to rate the elementary and middle schools in their community as poor or fair. This combination of high importance and low performance undoubtedly contributes to a lower-than-average rating of their quality of life.
  • For residents with a vocational/technical education, job-related health issues could be producing below-average quality of life.
     Compared to residents with higher or lower levels of educational attainment, a greater proportion of those with a vocational or technical education said that health is their most important quality-of-life consideration. Despite this importance, however, they were the least likely to rate health care as the most important community issue. What might be the reason for this disconnect? Residents with a vocational/technical education appear to be especially focused on work; they were also the group most likely to say jobs/economy is the most important community issue. The blue collar jobs they often hold are more likely to cause injury than white collar jobs (see here and here), which could lead to health concerns that weigh on their overall quality of life.   
  • Compared to other races and ethnicities, a greater percentage of blacks are concerned about financial challenges and crime and violence. 
    When survey respondents were asked to rank the factors most important to their quality of life, every demographic group selected either family or family health and safety the most. However, blacks had the highest proportion that selected financial well-being as most important. This is likely because only one-third of black respondents were able to rate their current personal financial condition as good or excellent, compared to nearly two-thirds of whites. Additionally, when asked to identify the most important issue affecting quality of life in their community, blacks selected crime and violence twice as often as other racial and ethnic groups. This combination of economic insecurity and community instability has a negative impact on many issues that factor into quality of life. A majority of blacks rate their communities poor or fair on a wide variety of characteristics, including parks, public safety, the economy and public K-12 education, while a majority of those in other racial/ethnic groups rate their communities as good or excellent. 

The 2018 Kansas City Quality of Life Survey was conducted in January 2018 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 2017 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.