Health
8:45 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Pittsburgh Region Gets High Marks in Quality of Life Survey

Local residents are generally happy to live in the Pittsburgh area, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the University of Pittsburgh and PittsburghTODAY. However, African-American are not so pleased.

Roughly 1,800 survey respondents in the 32-county Pittsburgh region ranked the local quality of life at 7.8 out of 10. The national average is 7.4 out of 10.

However, Dr. Scott Beach, Associate Director of Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research, said the relatively high quality of life estimates here do not mean that most residents think that life is improving in the Pittsburgh area.

"While most people just think things have remained the same, 37% thought [quality of life] had declined, versus 17% who thought it had improved," said Beach. "While it's pretty high in an absolute sense, people seem to be picking up that things are getting a little bit worse."

Beach said the region's African-American population reported a lower quality of life than the general population, as well as several other disparities.

"They're less likely to report the schools in their neighborhood as being adequately funded or safe," said Beach. "They report slightly higher rates of violent crime. They report more trouble paying for basic necessities, like housing and food."

Beach said African-Americans often report a comparatively low quality of life in national surveys as well. However, he said African-Americans were more likely than other races to report optimism about the economy and personal finance.

Pittsburghers Generally Unconcerned with Environmental Issues

Beach said he was surprised to find that most residents of the Pittsburgh region aren't worried about documented environmental problems.

"Only one in five of the residents perceived air quality and drinking water quality as problems," said Beach. "Even though we fail to meet federal air quality standards consistently, the residents don't generally perceive these to be problems."

However, more than half of respondents believe Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling poses a significant or moderate threat to public health and the environment. More than 57% of residents said state government should assume greater environmental oversight. Even so, a vast majority supports gas drilling as a good economic opportunity.

Beach said attitudes toward Marcellus Shale drilling vary, depending on the respondent's place of residence.

"People in the areas where most of the drilling is occurring tend to have more positive attitudes towards Marcellus Shale. They're more likely to support it," said Beach. "So, folks in Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh are less supportive than those in Washington County."