Saturday, June 04, 2005

Links to good research resources

Do you think you might be interested in a certain church, but you don't know if the city/town/farm village suits you? Demographics research is the key to finding your way. Here are some helpful online resources for researching demographics just about anywhere in the United States:
  • Yahoo Real Estate Neighborhood Profiles. Enter a zip code, or even an address, and get general demographics, cost of living, and quality of life information. You can also browse by state. This one is a good starting place.
  • Sperling's Best Places. Extensive Demographics information, including statistics on population, economy, housing, health and healthcare, education, crime, climate, and transportation. This one requires a membership for all but the most basic data, but the membership is free.
  • Claritas Best Segments. This company provides detailed and thorough demographical analyses-- the kind of thing that a church planter would drool over-- for a fee. They also offer free information under the “Zip-code Lookup” portion of their website. They have categorized every demographic group into humorous and playful descriptions, and at times they are a bit caricatured, but it is good information nevertheless.
  • U.S. Governmental Census Bureau-- American Factfinder. This site is a part of the Census Bureau's website, and it will provide all of the details that the latest census data reveals about any given community. Very helpful.
  • Yahoo Yellow Pages-- Church search. Find out what other churches are in the area where you are looking. One of my professors downloads this data into a spreadsheet, then imports that into Microsoft MapPoint to get a map of all of the churches in an area. Good for church planters, or those churches looking to re-locate.
  • American Religion Data Archive. This site is such a wealth of information that you really must look at it to get a sense of how much data is really there. If you want to know how many adherents of a particular denomination-- say, the Old Order Amish-- there are per 1000 in the general population in any given state, this is where you go to find out. They have a record of every published survey or poll related to religious matters, dating back into the 80's. They do maps, they do reports, and they do general documents. This site is a researcher's dream (I've wasted hours here-- don't tell my wife!).
  • Google Maps. This one is a new-comer to the list, but has made a big splash because of the integrated satellite maps available for any particular address. Fun to play with, and good for directions as well as determining how far from another location (like your spouse's parents' house) the place where you are looking actually is.

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