Determining the Development Status of United States Counties Based on Comparative and Spatial Analyses of Multivariate Criteria Using Geographic Information Systems

Lauren B. Wheeler, Eric C. Pappas


The United States ranked 8th in 2015 according to the United Nations’ Human Development Index, but empirical evidence shows that there are regions within the U.S. that would not classify as having “very high human development.”  We know about domestic poverty and hardship, but there are regions in the United States that are starting to look developmentally more like Albania or Kenya.  Using multivariate quantitative data (health statistics, education levels, and income) to replicate international development indices like that of United Nations on the national level, U.S. counties were ranked according to their development status.  In this way, widely recognized scales of development were translationally applied to the United States to fully understand the state of development, or rather regression, in the U.S.  The results were displayed cartographically to show the geographic distribution of regression across the U.S., mainly the Mississippi River Delta and the Appalachian Region.  In total, there were 66 counties that fell into fourth class, or the “low development” category, for all three development criteria.  

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