DAYTON, OH 45435


The entire report may be found and printed from the Menís Group Website at:

Printed copies may be obtained from the Menís Group by calling

937-767-4641 or 937-767-7050.

An electronic version may be obtained from the sponsor by request:



Back to: Overall index

Introduction and Goal of the Study



Choosing Comparable Communities

Choosing A Cost of Living Model

Figure 1: Cost of Living Model

Quality Assurance

Forward to: Section 1. Community Profile: Yellow Springs 1970-2000

Forward to: Section 2. Cost of Living Comparison: Yellow Springs and Neighboring Communities, 2000

Forward to: Appendix A: Tabulated Data from original Sources

Many issues our community has faced in recent years reflect an underlying concern about our economic circumstances, particularly the cost of living in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The absence of reliable, accurate and objective information has contributed to misunderstanding and division among residents. Early in this year, the Yellow Springs Men's Group resolved to try to help address this gap by sponsoring a study of the cost of living in the village. The availability of current Census data made this a particularly appropriate time to undertake this study. The hope is that this project will form a foundation for better understanding by providing a body of generally acceptable information about the community and how it compares to others in the region. Although we do not ourselves expect to use the information gathered to craft either public policy or private initiatives to address perceived questions or issues, we do hope that others will, using this information as a foundation for community dialogue.

The work outlined was planned to take pproximately six months and the data gathered were then integrated into this comprehensive report to the community. The results will also be reported to the community through a town meeting forum to be held later in 2002 when interested residents will be able to learn more and to ask questions about the study.

The project sponsor is the Yellow Springs Men's Group with fiscal support from The Yellow Springs Community Foundation and The Antioch Charitable Contributions Program.
Ordinarily the group would undertake this kind of project entirely by volunteer effort but the need for external assistance to assure objectivity and validity of the results raised the cost beyond the resources of the group and the agencies mentioned agreed to support the work.

The research here described is seen by the Group as fundamental and necessary to making wise decisions about future initiatives and directions to resolve issues described above. This work is intended only to provide information about the nature and extent of economic factors that affect living in Yellow Springs, but not what to do about them. It will neither address nor reach conclusions about how or when to remedy any perceived problems or even offer alternate solutions. These should come from a process of community dialogue, which we hope will follow the research.

Although the results presented show clear differences in various cost factors, no attempt has been made to compile information on the nature and scope of amenities which are offered by or characterize the various communities compared. As a consequence, the reader should be cautious about evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of various places based upon financial factors alone.

We hope that readers of this study will use the information to better understand and weigh both the cost and value of each of the factors involved in living in our community with an eye toward improving the management of both our personal and collective resources.
Other than funding for the professional research director/committee chair and reimbursement for incidental expenses incurred, the work was done entirely by volunteers without compensation over the last six months. Volunteers from the entire community were invited to join the effort by undertaking the data gathering and reduction. Those with research expertise were selected to help design and manage the study.

Several teams of investigators were assembled into Task Groups under the guidance of a Research Design Committee. The committee coordinated the work of the Task Groups by first outlining the tasks to be done, periodically assessing progress and making mid-course corrections, and integrating the final results as described below.

The Research Design Committee was composed of qualified people both from inside and outside the community who have the knowledge and commitment to carry out the task of research design
and coordination. The group was led by Jane Dockery, Associate Director of the Center for Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) at Wright State University, a qualified external research organization with experienced personnel, to guide the scope and direction of the research and assure its objectivity, integrity, and validity.

The Task Groups were composed of individuals who were willing to volunteer their time, knowledge, and skills to gather information on specific subjects to be later integrated into an appropriate report to the community. There were five such Task Groups dealing with Demography, Housing and Utility Costs, Taxes, Commodities, and Services. Each group had from three to eight members for a total of 23 task group members. The Research Design Committee had six. The total number of volunteers who participated is 30. Their names and those of the Research Design Committee (indicated with an asterisk) are listed below.

Ven Adkins
Alice Allen
Mary Alexander
Bill Alexander
Jean Ballantine*
Pat Barker
Ted Barker
Norris Bayless*
Wilbur Brown
Carl Bryan
Jeff Campbell
Joanne Caputo
Shelley Colbert
Jane Dockery*
Peggy Erskine
Jim Felder
Jocelyn Hardman*
Amy Harper
John Hart
Lauren Heaton
Steve Heckert
Cathy LaPalombara
Richard Lapedes
Maureen Lynch
Jim McKee*
Randall Newsome
Juanita Richardson
Leisa Schaim
Ron Schmidt*
Richard Zopf

The Research Design Committee first met in July 2002 to plan the project, define the Task Groups, write the work scope and approach guidelines, and address data quality control specifications. Task Group member qualifications were determined and volunteers invited to participate. A time schedule was developed with deadlines for eachtask. At all stages of the work, the Task Groups were able to coordinate with the Research Design Committee so that the information gathered could be validated and appropriate quality assurance objectives met. The final results have been validated by the Design Committee, both through its professional members and CUPA staff.

The first question faced by the Research Design Committee was a choice of other communities with which we might compare Yellow Springs. Because each town is in some senses unique, a choice of criteria for this cost of living comparison was necessary. The primary criteria chosen were size, geography, and socio-economic status. More Information on the choice criteria and the process can be found on pages 24, 25, and 26. 

Continuing the effort to standardize methods used in this cost of living study, the cost of living model parallels the design used by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association. The American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA) was founded in 1961 and has been publishing the Cost of Living Index quarterly since 1968. The ACCRA Index was developed to measure living cost differentials among urban regions. To measure living cost differentials  between Yellow Springs and other similar communities in the Dayton Region, the ACCRA model had to be slightly modified. Within regions, some costs like hospital room prices do not differ; the Research Design Committee for this project eliminated regional costs from this local model. On the other hand, the ACCRA model excludes discussion of local costs, like taxes. Because this study of Yellow Springs is purposefully studying costs on the local level, taxation, along with selected other local items, was added to the model. The basic components of the two models are presented in Figure 1 below. 

 FIGURE 1 Cost of Living Model


In dealing with any large body of data, errors are common. When volunteers with varying experience and training are involved there is even greater potential for erroneous information to creep into the work. From the beginning, this study was intended to have the highest levels of quality assurance so that any user of the results could have reasonable expectation of its objectivity and its accuracy. The following were adopted by the Research Design Committee at its first meeting to assure quality of the results.

  • Record Data Sources

    The sources of all data were cited and hard Photostatic copies made and turned in with tabulated data. All work and copies were to be signed by the volunteer so any questions could be verified directly with the source.

  • Verify Data Transfer

    After each set of data was transferred to the project data templates, researchers were asked to review every single transfer again to be sure that each one is correct.

  • Electronic Entries

    Each Task Group Chair was responsible for entering manuscript data into the electronic template furnished. All data were inspected for apparent anomalies and any questions resolved. In addition, spot checks were made all the way back to original photocopies in a random verification pattern.

  • Visual Inspection/Verification

    Upon completion of their work, each task group transferred copies of their finished electronic files to the RDC, retaining at least 2 copies as backups in different places (e.g. hard disk and floppy). The RDC and CUPA staff made additional audit checks to further verify the information before graphic displays were prepared.

  • Verification by Access

    The final step in verification was to assure transparency of both the data and process. All of the steps in the research process were documented and recorded. All of the data produced are accessible to anyone interested in either duplicating the results or building upon the database for further study. Printed reports will be widely distributed and, once the project is completed, anyone who wishes will be furnished a complete electronic copy of the database for their own inspection and additional work. In addition, the complete report and appendices with all of the data will be accessible via a web site posting.

    Forward to: Section 1. Community Profile: Yellow Springs 1970-2000