A complete understanding of quality of life must include both quantitative and qualitative measures. The Walton Family Foundation has long tracked a number of quantitative quality of life indicators in the region related to economic prosperity – such as sales tax revenue, percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree, employment rates, and poverty levels.
In 2012, the foundation collected for the first time qualitative measures using the Northwest Arkansas Quality of Life Survey. The survey was commissioned by the foundation's Evaluation Unit in partnership with the Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) at Mississippi State University and was designed to gauge the extent to which residents are satisfied with life in the region and view Northwest Arkansas as “a great place to live.” In 2015, the Evaluation Unit again commissioned the SRL and Mississippi State University to conduct another survey to determine if the quality of life perceptions of Northwest Arkansas residents had changed over the past three years.
Northwest Arkansas (NWA) was defined as Benton and Washington counties for this survey since this is the region that is the focus of the foundation’s investments.
Survey Purpose and Method
The 2015 Northwest Arkansas Quality of Life Survey has two primary goals:
1. To evaluate the impact of foundation giving in the Northwest Arkansas community by tracking changes over time; and
2. To inform strategic decisions about future grantmaking.
To accomplish these goals, residents were asked to provide their views on areas in which the foundation invests directly and about areas commonly associated with quality of life in which the foundation is not currently investing. SRL surveyed a representative sample of 1,035 residents in Benton and Washington counties between the ages of 20 and 64; there were 99 survey questions.