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Income and Race Distributions

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  • Competency 2: Assess the historical influence of discrimination issues in American culture.
    • Identifies major differences in income distribution throughout the United States.
    • Examines the causes for economic inequality.
  • Competency 4: Critically evaluate the application of existing policies based upon race or gender.
    • Address links between community economic resources and opportunities.
    • Discuss differences in life experiences based on income differences.
  • Competency 5: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
    • Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.

For this assignment, you will take a closer look at income inequality as well as differences in racial distribution. You will then discuss potential connections between income inequality and racial population distributions and patterns of segregation within this context.

You will use actual data drawn from the 2000 Census of the United States to compare the places you have lived with the national distribution. You will also examine some other places in Mississippi and South Dakota. Why these places? Explore and you will see. Crunch the numbers, reflect on them, and answer the questions that follow.

Learning Objectives

  1. To describe and examine patterns of income distribution in the United States in 2000.
  2. To describe and examine patterns in geographic racial minorities in the United States in 2000.
  3. Analyze the degree of geographic variation in income and ethnic composition.
  4. Discuss how life chances are associated with the social contexts of place.

Instructions
For this assignment, you will complete two tables, one representing distributions of incomes and another representing distributions of racial or ethnic groups. See to access the spreadsheet you will fill out for this assignment. After you fill out the tables, answer the questions under “For this assignment” in order to submit a complete assignment.

Table 1: The Distribution of Income in the United States

  • Step 1: Go to . On “Census Trend Charts” click “INCOME.” This will offer data on the household income in the United States in 2000. Household income reflects the combined income of all members of the family. Fill in the column on Table 1 under USA, rounding decimals to whole numbers (for instance, round 9.54% to 10%. At the bottom of the table, add the sum of the initial three rows of percentages to determine the percent of households earning $25,000 per year or less.
  • Step 2: Examine the degree to which Hennepin County, MN (the location of Capella University’s headquarters), compares with the national income distribution. To do this, go to “CHANGE LOCATION.” Click the radio button for “CHOOSE STATE.” Select Minnesota on the drop down menu and click “VIEW CHART.” This gives you the income distribution for this state. We want to look at a more restricted geographic area, so go again to the “CHANGE LOCATION” menu, click the radio button for “CHOOSE COUNTY,” and select Hennepin County. How do these numbers compare with the national distributions? Fill in the table. When done ZOOM OUT twice so that you can return to select a new state.
  • Step 3: Replicate the previous sequences to find the income distribution for the county of your hometown and fill in those numbers. How does your home county compare to Hennepin County and the U.S.? (Note: If you have trouble finding your county or a nearby area, choose another place, perhaps a vacation spot, someplace where you might want to live, the home county of the President, or whatever you like).
  • Step 4: Now look at Tunica County, Mississippi, fill in the statistics, and reflect on differences between that area and your home county.
  • Step 5: Now look at Bennett County, South Dakota, fill in the statistics, and reflect on differences observed.

Table 2: The Distribution of Races in the United States by State

  • Step 1: Go to . On Census Trend Charts click “POPULATON BY RACE.” This will offer data on racial composition in 2000, as well as other years. Fill in the column on Table 2 under U.S.A. using percentage representations from the 2000 Census.
  • Steps 2–5: Follow the same instructions for Steps 2–5 of Table 1 above, but this time look for national racial distributions.

For this Assignment:

  • Submit tables 1 and 2. You may use the template provided, or you may construct your own. This should be clearly labeled and submitted as either a part of your written project (in MS Word) or as an MS Excel spreadsheet. The most important element is for you to present organized and complete data as listed in the directions.
  • Answer the following questions in a short answer format. You should number the responses to correspond with the correct question. If you would like to restate the questions, that is also acceptable. This project should not be submitted in a formal essay format.
  • Compare the incomes in these different places in our nation to the income distribution in the United States. What patterns do you observe? Offer some sociological explanations for why these differences may exist.
  • Compare the racial and ethnic composition of these different places to the distribution in the United States. Again, what patterns do you observe? Does this difference in distribution indicate patterns of segregation? Why or why not? Again, offer some sociological explanations for why these differences may exist.
  • In comparing income distribution differences and racial population distributions, does race and income seem to be related? What are you basing this conclusion on?
  • Consider lives lived in different social contexts and reflect on the life chances of four poor children, one from Tunica County, one from Bennett County, one from Hennepin County, and one from your hometown (or the area chosen for Tables 1 and 2). Would these different social contexts have an impact on their lives? How? Should society get involved with addressing any noted differences in opportunity? If so, how? If not, why not?

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