Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Oct 29th 2010 at 12:35pm UTC

Canada’s Trick-or-Treater Index

In keeping with the spirit of this holiday weekend, here’s a fun list of how Canada’s metros stack up on our Trick-or-Treater Index. While of course all the metros are likely to have great neighborhoods for trick-or-treating, the original index we did for the United States generated so much interest that my MPI colleagues and I decided to do a similar one for Canada.

It’s based on five key criteria, all similar to the ones we used for the U.S. index.

A good place for trick-or-treating needs lots of kids, so we used the percentage of the population that is 5 to 14 years old. The haul is likely to be better where people have more money, so we included average income. It’s easier to canvass neighborhoods that are walkable so we measured the share of people who walk to work — and also those that have a greater density of population. And then there’s that hard-to-miss Halloween spirit. The most over-the-top costumes and celebrations often occur in artistic neighborhoods, so we included the fraction of artists, designers, and other cultural creatives. My colleagues Kevin Stolarick and Zara Matheson extracted the data, Charlotta Mellander crunched the numbers, Michelle Hopgood did the graphics, and Zara made the maps – all on tight turnaround.

As I explained in my original post:

The idea for the Trick-or-Treater Index came to me several years ago, right after my wife and I spent our first Halloween in Toronto and I wrote about it in Who’s Your City?. I’d lived in many urban neighborhoods in the United States in New York, Boston, D.C., Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Buffalo, and frankly had never seen many trick-or-treaters. Maybe I lived in the wrong kind of places — perhaps too trendy when I was younger or perhaps a bit too far removed from the beaten track as I got older. But it could have been something else, too. Because of real or imagined dangers in urban communities, many parents don’t let their kids go up to houses where they don’t know people, and are more likely to create supervised parties or trick-or-treating rituals for their kids. Nearly half of all children in the United States live in places where their parents fear that neighbors may be a bad influence, and more than one in five are kept indoors because they live in dangerous neighborhoods, according to a 2007 Census study reported in The New York Times.

But our house in Toronto is always mobbed with kids trick-or-treating, from teeny tots to tweens and teens, many of them going it on their own without parents along to supervise. And our house was not in some far-off suburb, but rather in a residential neighbourhood of older single-family homes, about two miles from downtown. I later learned that Catherine Austin Fitts, a former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, came up with a similar index — the Popsicle Index — which she describes as the percentage of people in a community who feel that a child can leave home safely to buy a Popsicle.

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