CNN and Money magazine just announced the 100 best small cities in the US to live in. With populations of 50,000-300,000, most cities in major metropolitan areas that border the major city that anchors the broader MSA are up for consideration. One of the factors that figures into the rankings is a "racial diversity index". Higher scores indicate more racial diversity, or more bluntly, a proportionately smaller white population.
The reason I point this out is that the other measurable variables clearly add or detract from the value of living in an area. You'd expect a higher percentage of days free of cloud cover to, ceteris paribus, make a place more desirable than a lower percentage would. Conversely, you'd expect longer average commute times to make a place less desirable than it would be if commutes were shorter. But do most people scouting out a new community to move to feel that greater racial diversity is a benefit that will influence their decisions, as is assumed by CNN/Money?
Here is the racial composition of the top 25 (nationally), excluding Hunter Mill and Sully, both in VA, for which I couldn't get information on (the demographics are similar across all 100, so just looking at the top quarter is a personal time saver). I estimated that 61% of Hispanics choose "white" as their race and came up with the non-Hispanic white percentage from that:
|Race||% best (national)|
|Nat Am||0.5 (1.0)|
|Pacific Islander||0.0 (0.2)|
|2+ races||2.3 (1.6)|
Yeah, the cities are whiter than the nation as a whole, but not really by that much. Of course, rural areas are whiter than more settled areas are, including the suburbs, so the white population is at a 'disadvantage' at the city level compared to state-level comparisons.
To answer the previously stated question, the short answer is no. Should a factor that is inversely correlated with "best living" in the minds of most people be embedded in the "best living" score? Doesn't this just distort the value provided by factors that actually measure desirable qualities like average scholastic test scores compared to those of the state as a whole or the percentage of the population that is married?
But to the extent that racial diversity does factor in, Asians are the preferred filler. The Asian number is even more impressive because the cities tend toward the center of the country due to cost-of-living and residence affordability.
* The Census doesn't breakdown non-Hispanic whites at the city level, but Peter noted in the comments that my previous estimate of 85% of Hispanics considering themselves white may have been too high. His intuition is correct, according to this article from the NYT. Half of Hispanics chose "white" as their race in the 2000 Census, with a little over 40% choosing "other" (only 2% chose "black"). Further, virtually all of the "other" category is comprised of Hispanics (97%). So I counted the entire 2.5% "other" as Hispanic, and the additional 4.0% of the total as white Hispanic to arrive at the non-Hispanic white percentage (listed simply as "white" in the table).