Equity and Quality of Place in Rural McLean County

Below are a mix of metrics that can help us determine equity and quality of place in our rural communities. Of course, there are many other metrics that could also fit into this category. 

Quality of place will be key for rural communities that have to compete with losing populations due to outmigration by youth. There is an opportunity for rural communities to attract baby boomers who are retiring and may want to live a quieter, more peaceful life in their retirement years. 

Tying back to the dependency ratio, attracting retirees can be good for population numbers, property taxes and sales tax numbers, but too much growth in a population not in the workforce can burden those individuals in the work force. Many retirees have lower incomes and less disposable income than when they were still in the workforce. 

Banner photo by Deanna Frautschi


GINI index is a measure for equality used by economists, planners and other researchers. 

The index ranges from zero (perfect equality) to one (perfect inequality); thus, the closer a community is to zero, they more they equitable they are considered to be based on a formula of factors. 

The percent of residents below poverty level has varied greatly between the communities. In some communities, the percent has increased quite a bit in the last couple of years. In some cases, the percent has decreased. One consideration when looking at data for small communities is that, because of their small size, when there is a change of, for example, one family, that could make a significant difference in the data for that community. A change of one family's demographic in a larger city won't impact data percentages as much. 

More research is needed to determine what might be driving these changes for each individual community. 

The achievement gap is a comparison of test results between demographic groups.  It shows the persistent difference in academic performance between different ethnic and racial groups, income levels, gender, and special student groups. These particular graphs show the achievement gap between low income students to non-low income students for English Language Arts and Mathematics. 

The farther negative the number is from 0, the larger the achievement gap. For example, a measure of -25 means that, on average, that testing year, low income students scored 25 points less than non-low income students. 

Graduation rates for low income students fluctuate for each district. For the most part, graduation rates for low income students in rural McLean County are on par or better than the average for the whole state of Illinois. Missing data is an indication that there were too few people to report without jeopardizing student privacy.  

Use the slider under high school graduation rate by sex to see data for different years. One can see, for example, that for 2018, there is quite a difference in male and female graduation rate in Ridgeview school district. 

Quality of Place

Average commute times tend to roughly depend on the distance between the community and a large employment region. 

For example, Towanda, Downs, and Hudson are all adjacent to Bloomington-Normal and have the shortest average commute time on the list. 

Homeownership rates tend to be much higher in the rural communities as compared all of McLean County, largely due to the student renter population in Bloomington and Normal. Our small communities tend to have a smaller ratio of apartment units than the urban area.