In this post I’m going to delve into a little demographic and economic profile of three counties: Marin County in Northern California, Cook County in Illinois where I live, and Queens Borough in New York. I’ve put pins in the map above to show you where these places are. This post was inspired by a little article I read about how Queens was the most diverse place in the United States while North Dakota, Maine, and Vermont were the least diverse. The information I present here (at the links) was derived from the Census Bureau, the source of the original article that served as a jumping-off point for this post.
Marin County is in the North Bay area of San Francisco. Its county seat is San Raphael. With views of the bay, the ocean, the mountains, and the redwoods (Muir Woods is in Marin), much of Marin is undeveloped. It’s a genuinely idyllic location.
Marin County has a population of about a quarter million people and an area of 828 square miles. 86% of those who live in Marin are white, under 3% are black, 16% are Hispanic, and 6% are Asian, a peculiar demographic characterization used by the Census Bureau which encompasses people as diverse as the Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Koreans, West Asians like Turks or Armenians, and South Asians like Pakistanis or Indians. India on its own has more diversity than Europe.
More than half of the people in Marin have college educations or above, almost 2/3s of the people there are employed, the median household income is more than $91K, and the average household size is 2.14 people.
Cook County is a highly developed county, largely built either on swampland or prairie. It is not scenic. You’d need to drive 1,000 miles to reach ocean or mountains.
More than 5 million people call Cook County home. Its area is 1,635 square miles. It’s a combination of city and suburban with a few parks and vestigial farmland or undeveloped areas. 66% of the people in Cook County are white, 24% are black, 25% are Hispanic, and 6% are Asian.
35% of the people in Cook County have college educations or above, 2/3s of the people here are employed, the median household income is $55K, and the average household size is 2.65 persons.
Queens is the largest of New York’s boroughs in area. Queens was originally riparian but it is now very highly developed and densely populated.
Queens has a population of 2.3 million people and an area of 178 square miles, nearly 40% of which is water. Its land area is 109 square miles. 49% of the people in Queens are white, 21% are black, 18% are Hispanic, and 26% Asian.
30% of the people in Queens have college educations or above, 64% are employed, the median income is $57K, and the average household size is 2.89 persons.
Of the three in demographic terms Marin is more like Maine than it is like Queens, a place of tremendous racial and ethnic diversity. But diversity doesn’t mean representative. Cook County is much more representative in that it looks more like America overall than either Marin or Queens. Marin is, obviously, much, much richer than either Cook or Queens. A quarter of the people in Marin speak a language other than English at home; a third of the people in Cook County do so; an astonishing 56% of the people in Queens speak a language other than English at home. Housing costs in Marin are about twice those in Chicago and 50% more than in Queens. Housing costs exclusive of mortgage costs are about the same in all three places, i.e. the difference among them is in property value.
All three are primarily Democratic in their political affiliations.