Spotlight: Quality of Life

Background

In 2017, CountyStat and the Office of Public Information commissioned NRC to conduct their standardized “National Citizen Survey” in Montgomery County to consult Montgomery County residents on their views on the County’s overall livability, the quality of the County’s public services, the resident’s levels of participation, and priorities for government action. Each respondent provided feedback on over 200 questions and topics across 8 main themes: 

Main survey categories: Safety, Mobility, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Economy, Recreation and Wellness, Education and Enrichment, Community Engagement
The survey results originate from a representative sample of 1,075 residents that were randomly selected to participate. Respondents are 18 or over and were asked to provide feedback for their household. Women had a higher response rate to the survey, representing 58% of all responses vs. their 53% share of the adult population. NRC corrected for demographic imbalances in the sample by reweighing the responses to better match the County’s: race/ethnicity, home ownership rate, housing type, age, gender, and home regional service center area. This weighing rebalanced the responses to the County norm for all factors except for Hispanic residents, due to a particularly low response rate (8% in sample, reweighted to 12%, vs. a County norm of 16%).
The findings and charts below are based on a comparison of the results received by women and men. This splitting of the data leads to a higher margin of error because the number of respondents for each subgroup is smaller. Based on a 95% confidence interval, the estimated margin of error for the responses from women is roughly 4%, while that for the responses for men is roughly 5% (vs. 3% for County-wide figures). For this reason, CountyStat will focus on responses that show a significant difference in the responses, equal to 8% or more. Also note that men were over-represented among Asian respondents (22% share vs. 14% among women) while women were over-represented among Black/ African American respondents (16% vs. 9%). Men were also over-represented among high-income brackets (53% vs. 43%) and households containing children (40% vs. 31%). 

Comparing Responses for Women and Men

While responses are often remarkably consistent across female and male respondents—from employment opportunities to air quality—the survey results do show notable differences in the following areas:
woman writing out priorities

Civic Engagement and Participation

Women generally report higher levels of advocacy and civic engagement; higher satisfaction with opportunities for participating in community matters; and higher levels of keeping up with local news:
  • Women are more likely to campaign or advocate for an issue (31% vs. 19%), to contact Montgomery County (51% vs. 42%), to volunteer (45% vs. 40%), and to attend a local public meeting (26% vs. 22%) or watch it remotely (28% vs. 23%).
  • Building on this, women generally also report higher satisfaction with opportunities for community engagement, including for volunteer (65% vs. 55% “Excellent” or “Good”), opportunities to participate in community matters (59% vs. 52% “Excellent” or “Good”), and social events and activities (22% vs. 11% “Excellent”).
  • Women are also more likely to “always” vote in local elections (53% vs. 43%), “always” read or watch local news (43% vs. 30%), and “always” recycle (77% vs. 73%).
  • Women are also more frequent users of civic association newsletters and community list serves (59% vs. 52%) as well as Nextdoor (33% vs. 28%) and are more intense consumers of local TV stations (34% vs. 23% “major source”).
  • Women report higher levels of satisfaction with County-sponsored special events (74% vs. 63% “excellent” or “good,” excluding “don’t know”).
  • Indicative of this higher level of engagement, women had a higher response rate to the survey itself, representing 58% of all responses vs. their 53% share of the adult population.

Government Priorities

Women generally place higher importance on government’s role to address community issues:
  • Women are more likely to suggest that the government dedicate “high effort” to improving social services for those in need (55% vs. 40%), the environment (53% vs. 40%), jobs and business growth (46% vs. 37%), and crime (65% vs. 57%).
  • Women are also more likely to rate the following as “essential”: health and wellness opportunities (39% vs. 25%), economic health of the County (50% vs. 41%), and opportunities for education and enrichment (46% vs. 39%).

people waiting in line
woman and girl in park

Government Services

Women generally reported higher levels of satisfaction with government services, the County government’s customer service, and their ability to work with government to resolve issues:
  • Women report higher rates of overall customer service by Montgomery County employees (75% vs. 66% “excellent” or “good”, excluding “don’t know”).
  • Women are much more likely to report that it is “very easy” for them to communicate their issue or problem to County government (45% and 24%) and to resolve their issue or problem (30% vs. 16%).
  • Women report higher levels of strong satisfaction with Montgomery County government (25% “Excellent” vs. 17%), but lower overall satisfaction with the federal government (40% vs. 48% “Excellent” or “Good”).
  • Women report higher satisfaction with Montgomery County Recreation programs or classes (82% vs. 76% when excluding “don’t know”). Ratings for Libraries were largely consistent across men and women.

Quality of Life

While women and men often provided similar rates of positive feedback on the County’s quality of life, women reported higher rates of strong positive feedback (as indicated by an “Excellent” rating) whereas men more often provided the lower positive rating of “Good”:
  • Women are more likely to see Montgomery County as an “Excellent” place to live (39% vs. 33%) and an “Excellent” place to raise children (37% vs. 31%). Women also have a higher rate of reporting that they are “very likely” to recommend living in Montgomery County to someone who asks (49% vs. 40%).
  • Women are more likely to rate shopping opportunities as “Excellent” (37% vs. 26%) and to rate the County’s vibrant downtowns and commercial areas as “Excellent” or “Good” (69% vs. 60%).
  • Women are more likely to report that the overall appearance of Montgomery County is “Excellent” (23% vs. 15%), with “Excellent” levels of overall cleanliness (24% vs. 16%) and “Excellent” public places where people want to spend time (22% vs. 15%).
police woman
woman handing out bottles

Public Security and Economic Security

Women report somewhat higher levels of safety in their neighborhood, but slightly lower satisfaction with police and lower rates of reporting crime to the police. Women are also more concerned about the impact of the economy:
  • Women report higher degrees of safety, particularly in their neighborhood during the day (72% feeling “very safe” vs. 65% among men).
  • Women report slightly higher levels of dissatisfaction with police services (18% vs. 12% report “Poor” or “Fair”, excluding “Don’t know”).
  • Women are less likely to have reported a crime to the police (15% vs. 22%) and are more likely to have no opinion on crime prevention (32% vs. 21%).
  • Women are more likely to be concerned about the impact of the economy on their family over the next 6 months (18% vs. 9% “very” or “somewhat negative”).
  • Women are more likely to have no opinions on permitting services (63% vs. 49%) and economic development (33% vs. 20%).

Personal Health and Emergency Preparedness

Women report living healthier lifestyles and appear to be more prepared for an emergency:
  • Women appear to live a healthy lifestyle, particularly in terms of eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day (65% vs. 51% “always” or “usually”) and participating in moderate or vigorous physical activity (58% vs. 52% “always” or “usually”).
  • Women are more likely to use Alert Montgomery (58% vs. 46%) and are somewhat more likely to have stocked supplies in preparation for an emergency (38% vs. 33%).
  • Women report higher dissatisfaction with electric and gas utilities (29% vs. 22% “fair” or “poor”, excluding “don’t know”) and drinking water (28% vs. 20%).

woman riding bus

Mobility

Women report somewhat higher levels of satisfaction with public transportation overall, but lower ratings and higher no opinions regarding walking and bicycling:
  • Women report slightly higher satisfaction with public transportation (39% positive vs. 34%), but lower satisfaction with the ease of walking (48% vs. 54%).
  • Possibly indicating lower usage, women more frequently have no opinion on bus and transit services (32% vs. 22%) and particularly ease of travel by bicycle (46% vs. 31%).
  • Women report lower levels of satisfaction with Snow removal (53% vs. 61% “Excellent” or “Good”) and Sidewalk maintenance (48% vs. 55% “Excellent” or “Good”).

Schools

Women reported higher levels of overall satisfaction with the K-12 school system, but had lower ratings for school facilities and class sizes compared to the responses from men:
  • Women report higher levels of satisfaction with overall education at K-12 public schools (80% vs. 71% “excellent” or “good” excluding “don’t know”).
  • However, women report lower levels of satisfaction with school facilities (34% vs. 36% “Poor” or “Fair,” excluding “Don’t know”) and, similarly, with class sizes (50% vs. 44%).

Interactive Dashboard with Full Results

CountyStat has developed an interactive dashboard that compares responses by age, gender, income, and other characteristics for every question on the survey. This tool is best viewed in full-screen by going to the following link: bit.ly/mc-qol-dashboard

For those able to view the dashboard on a large screen, the dashboard has also been embedded below:
Finally, to view the other survey reports, please visit: montgomerycountymd.gov/OPI/survey2017.html