Development of a Composite Model of Quality of Life: A Case Study in Austin, Texas
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Recent literature in Geography and Urban Planning has focused on the assessment of Quality of Life (QOL) experienced by residents. Despite the lack of a universal method for study, researchers have generally accepted common variables related to reported QOL. This research examines how QOL may be studied empirically for Austin, Texas by using social, economic, and environmental variables at the census tract level. In addition to factors examined by previous researchers, crime rate and commute time are included to better understand their effect on QOL.
Economic and social variables, including crime rate and commute time, were derived from the U.S. Census and the Austin Police Department. The environmental quality variables were derived from Landsat 7 ETM+ imageries. A factor analysis approach was used to indicate how variables relate to each other as well as QOL for the study area. Using the percentage of variance for each variable as a weight, a synthesized index was developed to assess QOL in Austin, Texas. Model validation by using median home value normalized by number of rooms indicated the usefulness of a synthetic QOL index to predict relative market value at the census tract level.