In my master’s thesis I was examining the potential connection between socio-economic status of urban neighbourhoods and the health of the streams that run through them. This was following up with what many recent studies have started to explore: the connection between socio-economic characteristics of neighbourhoods and ecological variables (plant and bird diversity, realized stewardship, soil nutrients).
As part of my research I used a database called PRIZM (Potential Rating Index for Zip Markets) – which creates a standardized set of market and demographic “cluters” based on basic Statistics Canada data (age, employment, income, education, etc), the Statistics Canada Survey of Houehold Spending, and data collected at the checkout counter (i.e. “Can I have your postal code”). The data is reported at the Dissemination Area level (the smallest you can get for Stats Canada data) which is approximately 200-400 people.
The data was useful. For my purposes I was able to use the Household Expenditure Potential (HEP) for different products and services (i.e. gardening and fertilizers) and measures of income to compare lifestyle choices to water quality in streams.
However, the real fun of this data is perusing the clusters to see how groups of people are broken down. It is fun to show people how marketing programs delineate them from other “market clusters”… the clusters also have ridiculous names (i.e. Traditional Times, Bohemian Mix, Blue Blood Estates).
In one of the more trendy neighbourhoods in Montreal, Mile End, I found the “Active Youth” cluster, characterized as follows:
They are categorized as young, downscale, and transient; Many of them are students or young people getting a start on life; Over half are bilingual; Although many have degrees, they usually make around $40,000 a year, and live in less-expensive housing.This group enjoys physical activity and makes their money spread so that they can go to concerts, art galleries and trendy cafes. This cluster is also characterized as liking to entertain at home with take-out food and wine, and they like to discuss politics as they often reject authority, support civil disobedience and believe in sexual permissiveness.