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Home Ipswich: the Place

Massachusetts Kind Of Community (KOC) Classification

Some of the statistics available from the state of Massachusetts classify towns by Kind OCommunity (KOC).
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 The Kind Of Community classification is so badly outdated it hasn't appeared at all on the DOE Statistical website for a long time.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:

  1. Equalized Property Valuation Per Capita 1984 equalized property valuation divided by 1980 population
  2. Percentage High Income percentage of total households whose income exceed $50,000 in 1979
  3. Percentage Low Income percentage of total households whose income was less than $10,000 in 1979
  4. Percentage with Some College percentage of all adults aged 25 and over on January 1, 1980 who had completed at least one year of college education
  5. Manufacturing Activity Index composite index of two attributes: (a) percentage of total valuation derived from industrial property, and (b) jobs in manufacturing, communication, electric, gas, sanitary services, and transportation; divided by land square miles
  6. Commercial Activity Index composte index of two attributes: (a) percentage of total valuation derived from commercial property in 1984, and (b) jobs in wholesale and retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate and all other services in 1982; divided by land square miles
  7. Residential Index percentage of total valuation derived from residential property in 1984
  8. Unemployment Rate average percentage of the labor force not employed during 1983
  9. Percentage Who Rent percentage of the population living in rented housing units
  10. Housing Age percentage of occupied housing units built before 1940
  11. Percentage Minority non white percentage plus hispanic white percentage
  12. Percentage Foreign Language percentage of the population aged five and above who speak a language other than English at home, even if English is the primary language
  13. Percentage School Age percentage of the population aged 5-17 years
  14. Population Change percentage increase or decrease in population between 1970 and 1980
  15. Population Density total persons in 1980 divided by land square miles

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.


Location: (N) 42.680943, (W) -70.839384
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