Some of the statistics available from the state of Massachusetts
classify towns by
Kind Of Community
What does this mean?
The original classification of Massachusetts towns by Kind Of Community was done several times by the Department of Education, the first time in 1980 and the last time in 1985. (It replaced an even earlier scheme that classified all towns as one of: big cities; industrial suburbs; residential suburbs; and other [mostly small towns].) The Kind Of Community classification is so badly outdated it hasn't appeared at all on the DOE Statistical website for a long time. Even though it was not being actively maintained in any way (and even though its original creator had abandoned it), the old Kind Of Community data was repeated on the DOR-DLS (Department of Revenue-Divison of Local Statistics) website for many years. (It's possible -but unlikely- some sort of Kind Of Community scheme will be resurrected by the Department of Education.)
In the original Kind Of Community classification, a very broad group of fifteen different demographic/economic factors were considered. Some data values were taken from the (1979)1980 federal census and others pulled from various Massachusetts agency databases. The factors were:
A statistical technique called cluster analysis was used on all these factors to divide towns into seven roughly equal groups. The groups were then named and described:
Most likely (but not for certain) for later classifications the same weights were re-used from an earlier classification without re-doing the cluster analysis. In any case the Kind Of Community classification was not updated at all after 1985.
Even though it may still be possible to obtain the old data, the original Kind Of Community classification should be used only warily. It has not been kept up to date for a quarter century. A lot has changed in all that time. And a reclassification that reflects current data does not seem to be available (or even readily calculated).
Ipswich may well not fit into the "Resort/Retirement and Artistic" group any more. Furthermore, that group may have never been particularly meaningful even when the overall scheme was current. That group is the smallest cluster identified, the size of the group shrank significantly over a short time (46 to 40 towns just from 1984 to 1985), the towns in the group seem remarkably dissimilar, the group is the last of the seven clusters defined, and unlike all the other groups its name tries to combine several things. In more blunt terms, it seems likely that Resort/Retirement and Artistic was the original "miscellaneous" group for towns that didn't fit into any of the other groups. And there's the suspicion that Ipswich was grouped into Resort/Retirement and Artistic simply because of its large geographic size and very low permanent population density (due to summer homes, marsh land, state owned land, farms, reservations, and great estates), not because of any wider variety of factors.