MIAMI (Sept. 29, 2009) – A Gallup study of the Miami area and 25 other U.S. communities has found that the worst economic crisis in decades does not play a key role in residents' passion and loyalty for Miami.
“While the pain from the recession is deep, other factors far outweigh economics when it comes to determining how emotionally attached people are to their communities,” said Warren Wright, managing partner for Gallup, which conducted the study with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
In 2009, the second of a three-year study, emotional attachment to the Miami area increased significantly.
The increase was largest amongst African-Americans, those living in lower-income, urban areas, the study found.
The study pinpointed three main factors that emotionally attach residents to Miami, including openness (how welcoming a place is), social offerings (fun places to gather) and aesthetics (an area’s physical beauty and green spaces). However, ratings for those qualities remained steady – which means that something else not examined by the study is influencing the big jump in the loyalty and passion Miamians have for the area in 2009.
Dr. Marvin Dunn, a Florida International University professor and author of Black Miami in the 20th Century, said that recent beautification projects, particularly in Overtown, and a decrease in crime could explain part of the increase.
“Adding greenways, having clean streets and lights all make people want to put down roots in a community,” Dunn said.
He added that during recessions, residents tend to dig in their heels and become more attached to home.
While the current economic crisis doesn't seem to make a difference in residents' love for Miami, the study found that positive feelings for where one lives do have a connection to local GDP growth over a longer term period.
The Soul of the Community study was designed to explore this connection between economic growth and residents’ emotional attachment towards where they live. The latest results suggest a significant correlation.
Within a smaller microcosm, such as a company, Gallup has been able to show that increasing employee emotional connection leads to the improved financial performance of the organization. Researchers continue to look to determine if the emotional connection to place where one lives drives economic growth for communities in a similar way.
“The findings are particularly important in a globalized economy made more competitive by the economic crisis,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives. “Local leaders, urban planners and residents can use the study’s results to better understand their community.
“We hope that the information helps places like Miami fight for the innovative, creative and productive talent needed to build healthy communities.”
The communities surveyed vary in population size, economic levels and how urban or rural they are. Gallup randomly surveyed a representative sample of more than 10,000 adults from Feb. 17 to April 25, 2009, by phone.
The following communities were included in the survey: Aberdeen, S.D., Akron, Ohio, Biloxi, Miss., Boulder, Colo., Bradenton, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., Columbia, S.C., Columbus, Ga., Detroit, Mich., Duluth, Minn., Fort Wayne, Ind., Gary, Ind., Grand Forks, N.D., Lexington, Ky., Long Beach, Calif., Macon, Ga., Miami, Fla., Milledgeville, Ga., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Palm Beach, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa., San Jose, Calif., St. Paul, Minn., State College, Pa., Tallahassee, Fla., Wichita, Kan.
For complete survey findings on the Miami area, visit www.soulofthecommunity.org/miami
Gallup has studied human nature and behavior for more than 70 years. Gallup's reputation for delivering relevant, timely, and visionary research on what people around the world think and feel is the cornerstone of the organization. Gallup employs many of the world's leading scientists in management, economics, psychology, and sociology, and our consultants assist leaders in identifying and monitoring behavioral economic indicators worldwide. Gallup's 2,000 professionals deliver services at client organizations, through the Web, at Gallup University's campuses, and in 40 offices around the world.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.