Criticism of state officials for public discontent about Connecticut and data indicating that more people are moving out of Connecticut than moving in has been quite steady for a number of years, and was advertised quite widely during the most recent gubernatorial campaign. Now, data reported by Governing magazine may put into perspective the consternation about Connecticut, given that the state’s population is among the oldest in the nation (ranking 7th). Generally, Connecticut residents have been here for a long time.
“Citizen survey data support the notion that those who have resided in their communities longest tend to have more negative feelings about them,” the magazine reported.
The National Research Center (NRC), a research firm that conducts citizen satisfaction surveys, provided Governing with data measuring citizens’ attitudes in roughly 300 localities nationwide. About two-thirds of those with residency of less than five years in a community rated the overall direction of their jurisdictions as “excellent” or “good,” compared to only 48 percent among those who had lived in an area for more than 20 years. Results for other questions yielded similar differences, according to the Governing article, titled “Familiarity Breeds Contempt” in print editions.
“The very characteristics of a community that attract new residents may serve as a source of frustration for some who’ve been around a while. Results for survey questions on confidence in government and treating all citizens fairly also show a drop off among longtime residents,” the magazine reported.
Ashley Kirzinger, who conducts citizen surveys at the University of Illinois at Springfield, told Governing she’s found the same link in her research on local governments in Illinois: The longer people live in a community, the lower the ratings they’ll give a jurisdiction after controlling for age, education, income and race. Kirzinger’s research also shows that more civically engaged longtime residents tend to report more positive perceptions than those who are not as involved.
A year ago, Forbes magazine reported that “the Nutmeg State rates third overall for quality of life thanks to low crime and poverty rates, a healthy populous and strong schools.” A 2011 Civic Health Index report on Connecticut found that there was consider civic involvement. “Overall, Connecticut scored better than the national average when it came to voter registration and voter turnout, scored highly in terms of internet connectedness, and ranked 6th in the nation for the percentage of people who donate to charity,” the report found.
NRC President Tom Miller, reflecting on the national data, “suspects some residents gradually develop a lower tolerance for change, even in cities experiencing a transformation generally perceived as positive,” Governing reported.