The Geography of the Seven Deadly Sins in the United States

In February, the real estate website Trulia released a collection of the United States metropolitan areas with the highest indices of sinful behavior based on their own measure. From sloth, which uses exercise surveys, to wrath, which is based on violent crime statistics, the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the country are rated for the Seven Deadly Sins. In the end, the most “sinful” place in the United States is New Orleans because of high ratings in lust, gluttony, and envy, but despite prideful activities not being very common there. Lust values are determined by the prevalence of adult entertainment, while pride is determined by the number plastic surgeons, tanning, and beauty salons. Gluttony is based on heavy or binge drinking, smoking, and obesity levels. Envy, on the other hand, is found by comparing the 25th and 75th percentile of home listing prices to the median listing price for the area to roughly determine wealth inequality. Lastly, this study uses gambling establishments per capita and donations to charity to find greed levels.

Sometimes, areas can be among the most sinful places in the countries for a certain sin and yet rank among the least overall. For example, Fort Collins, Colorado and the Provo ­Orem, Utah metropolitan area both rank 12th and 30th respectively for prideful behaviors but are,­ along with the Ogden ­Clearfield area also in Utah, the least sinful metros in the country with little gambling, lots of exercising, and low ratings in gluttony. Conversely, Las Vegas is among the most sinful but has low ratings in envy and sloth.

This raises perhaps the most substantive critique of the list. Wealth inequality and envy seem to interact with the other deadly sins in ways the others do not. Poverty can be linked to violent crimes, obesity, fewer opportunities to exercise, drinking (or at least more prevalent liquor stores), and smoking. While gambling and adult entertainment appeal to people across all wealth ranges, the same cannot be said for plastic surgery. Pride, by these measures, seems to be a middle to high class sin while many of the others are more commonly lower class issues. Users of a real estate website ­ and particularly the “Livability” blog’s readers ­ are likely looking to find a home in a place that fulfills their aspirations, which are rarely found in impoverished areas. Taking everything into account, the sinful cities study offers a collection of quite interesting data and some surprises, and does not merely paint cities in a positive or negative light. It acknowledges the attraction of certain “sinful” behaviors to some prospective home owners, and should be checked out before jumping to conclusions.

More: Sin Cities And Saintly Sanctuaries, Trulia, February 3, 2016.

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