The Heller School For Social Policty And Management The Heller School For Social Policy and Management Brandeis University

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is diversitydata.org?

2. What is a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)?

3. What are Micropolitan Statistical Areas and Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA)?

4. Metropolitan boundary definitions in diversitydata.org are defined as of which year?

5. How do I figure out which metropolitan area I live in?

6. Do metro areas cross state boundaries?

7. How was race/ethnicity measured?

8. What is the difference between race and ethnicity?

9. Which racial/ethnic categories are reported in diversitydata.org?

10. What about people who indicate that they are multi-racial?

11. What is the difference between white and Non-Hispanic white categories?

12. Why is there not more data reported for American Indian and Alaskan Natives?

13. What is a Profile?

14. What is a Ranking?

15. How do I read the maps created by the diversitydata.org website? How are values on the map assigned?

16. Why is data missing for some indicators or metro areas?

17. What is the diversitydata.org Archive site?


18. Why don’t my MSA choices always appear consistently across all reports?





1. What is diversitydata.org?

diversitydata.org is an online tool for exploring quality of life data across metropolitan areas for people of different racial/ethnic groups in the United States. It provides values and rankings for the largest U.S. metropolitan areas on different indicators in 8 areas of life (domains), including demographics, education, economic opportunity, housing, neighborhoods, and health. It also provides a simple mapping utility, showing the range of indicator values for metros across the U.S.

2. What is a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)?

Metropolitan statistical areas are geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for use by Federal statistical agencies in collecting, tabulating, and publishing Federal statistics. A metropolitan area contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more population and includes the counties containing the core urban area, as well as any adjacent counties that have a high degree of social and economic integration (as measured by commuting to work) with the urban core.

3. What are Micropolitan Statistical Areas and Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA)?

A micropolitan area contains a core urban area of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population and includes the counties containing the core urban area, as well as any adjacent counties that have a high degree of social and economic integration (as measured by commuting to work) with the urban core. diversitydata.org does not provide data on micropolitan areas. Core Based Statistical Area is a collective term for both metro and micro areas.

4. Metropolitan boundary definitions in diversitydata.org are defined as of which year?

The Office of Management and Budget revises metropolitan area boundary definitions after each decennial census to take into effect changes in population and commuting patterns. In addition, smaller changes are made throughout the decade. diversitydata.org currently utilizes metropolitan area boundaries defined as of June, 2003. For a listing of metro area components as of that date, see http://www.census.gov/population/metro/files/lists/2003/03mfips.txt.

5. How do I figure out which metropolitan area I live in?

diversitydata.org features a utility in the upper right corner which allows users to type in their county and identify their metropolitan area.

6. Do metro areas cross state boundaries?
Yes, some of them do. Since many major cities are located along state boundaries, metro areas cross state lines. Many MSAs include land in parts of more than 1 state, and a small number of MSAs include land from 3 or more states.

7. How was race/ethnicity measured?

Most of the racial/ethnicity data on this website was gathered by self report – this means that the people being surveyed chose the racial/ethnic category in which they would categorize themselves. For a discussion of how this data was collected in the 2000 Census, see: Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin

8. What is the difference between race and ethnicity?

Race and ethnicity are asked as separate questions on the Census and in many other (though not all) datasets. The 2000 Census provides 6 racial categories, and respondents could identify as many as they believed applied to them: White, African-American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and some “other” race. Ethnicity refers to Hispanic or Latino origin. The Census Bureau states that origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race.

9. Which racial/ethnic categories are reported in diversitydata.org?

In most cases, we created mutually-exclusive racial/ethnic categories, so that the same people were not counted twice. This means that we created a Hispanic category, which includes people of any race that identified as Hispanic or Latino, as well as non-Hispanic racial categories (i.e. non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic Asian). Often, the Asian subgroup also includes Native-Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders. At times, data availability made it impossible to create such mutually exclusive categories, especially for Blacks and Asians. In those cases, data is reported for all Blacks and Asians (both Hispanic and non-Hispanic). Nationally, 2% or less of the “Black Alone” and “Asian Alone” populations identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, though this does differ by metro area.

10. What about people who indicate that they are multi-racial?

In general, indicators by race include only those people who identify themselves as that race “alone.” People who identify as more than one race (about 2.4% of the population in 2000) are excluded.

11. What is the difference between white and Non-Hispanic white categories?

The white category includes both people identifying as Hispanic or Latino, as well as people who do not identify as Hispanic or Latino. The non-Hispanic white category includes only those whites who do not identify as Hispanic or Latino.

12. Why is there not more data reported for American Indian and Alaskan Natives?

Nationally, as of the 2000 Census, less than 1% of the population identified themselves as “non-Hispanic, American Indian and Alaskan Native alone.” Broken down to the metropolitan area, such small sample sizes cause substantial concern about the statistical validity of many indicators, so, for some indicators, this population group is excluded.

13. What is a Profile?

A profile is a list of indicators for one metro area. You can choose which indicators to include in your profile listing from any of the domains by selecting the "Customize Profile" tab.

14. What is a ranking?

A ranking is a list of values for one indicator, for some or all metro areas. You can choose whether to rank the metros alphabetically or numerically from low to high, from high to low, or showing the top and bottom 10 values. You can also choose whether you want to see all metro areas for which data is available or the largest 100.

15. How do I read the maps created by the diversitydata.org website? How are values on the map assigned?

The map provides a visual illustration of one indicator across the largest 100 metro areas. These maps show four categories, each containing one-quarter of the top 100 metros (in some cases there are fewer metros shown due to lack of data.) The four categories range from lowest to highest value of the data, and each is assigned a different color. So values are categorized into the lowest group, the second lowest group, the third lowest group, or the highest group. A key at the bottom of the map translates the range of values for each color group. A table below the map then lists every metro area and its data value. You can see the value underlying each dot (metro) on the map by moving your cursor across the dot.

16. Why is data missing for some indicators or metro areas?

There are many reasons why data might be missing. The reasons differ depending on the source of the data. In some cases, we established minimum population thresholds and did not report metro areas with racial/ethnic populations below those thresholds, to avoid data being skewed by small sample sizes. For example, with natality/birth data, we only report information for groups that had over 100 births over the specified time period. For many neighborhood characteristics, we only report data for metro areas that have at least 5,000 members of the specified racial/ethnic group. Data is missing from some Economic Census data (on business ownership) if there were zero businesses owned by a particular racial/ethnic group. Home loan (HMDA) data could be missing if there were zero loans made for the racial/ethnic group in that metro area, or if there were too few home loans in a subgroup to calculate a stable proportion or rate. In some cases, the original source of the data may have calculated indicators for only a certain number of metro areas. In that case, the rest of the metro areas would be missing data for that indicator. For some datasets we can identify only metro areas with the largest populations. The smaller metro areas are not identified to protect the confidentiality of the small number of people in that area.

17. What is the diversitydata.org Archive site?

The diversitydata.org Archive site, accessible from the Publications and Resources page of the diversitydata.org site, contains the original diversitydata.org indicators based on 1999 Metropolitan Area definitions. Because these previous definitions may differ with those currently presented in diversitydata.org, in some cases to a significant degree, users should not make direct comparisons between the data available on the archived site and that available on the current site.

18. Why don’t my MSA choices always appear consistently across all reports?

Because of the unique display needs of each report type, some reports are only able to display a certain number or type of MSAs. As you move between the report types, the system remembers any custom MSAs you may have selected in the previous report and displays as many as possible in the current report. If your MSA choices differ from the capabilities of the report, some MSAs may be dropped from the selection.

  • The Rankings report displays up to 362 MSAs.
  • The Map and Histogram reports display up to the 100 largest MSAs by population size.
  • The Bar report displays up to five MSAs. If more than five have been selected in a previous report, the Bar report will display the only first five, by alphabetical order.