Is the quality of life in the Central San Joaquin Valley getting better or worse? Respondents to a series of surveys in 2007 answered that several important things are worse.

The survey is conducted by the Social Research Laboratory at California State University, Fresno. Laboratory director Edward Nelson, a sociology professor at Fresno State, has been spearheading quality of life surveys for more than two decades.

In 2007, the annual telephone survey of 800 people explored financial satisfaction and expectations, government performance, how people feel about their community, the Valley and the state. It also asked about crime, confidence in leadership, the public schools and satisfaction with community and neighborhood.

Looking at 2007 responses and comparing them to the previous year, Nelson found:

Respondents are very unhappy with the performance of government at all levels – local, state and federal – and their unhappiness is increasing.

Crime is seen as the most pressing problem facing communities. In 2006, 25 percent thought it was the most pressing problem issue, but that went up to 28 percent in 2007.

Concern over the economy intensified in 2007.

Financial expectations for the future dropped sharply in 2007.

On the plus side, results indicate respondents’ satisfaction with their community and neighborhood remains at a high level.

“If we combine ‘very satisfied’ and ‘somewhat satisfied,’ we find that over the period from 2001 to 2007, between 77 and 85 percent were satisfied with their community and between 80 and 88 percent were satisfied with their neighborhood,” said Nelson.

“In 2007, 85 percent were very or somewhat satisfied with their community and 88 percent with their neighborhood.”

The Quality of Life survey has been conducted by the Social Research Laboratory, a unit of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State, for more than two decades. Prior to 2000, the focus was the Fresno-Clovis area. In 2000, Fresno County was included and in 2001, researchers began studying Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Madera counties.

Established in 1980, the Social Research Lab assists students, faculty, governmental agencies and other organizations in applying research skills and computer applications in their research and classes. The lab provides assistance in a number of areas including sampling design, questionnaire construction, interviewer training, data collection, coding, data entry, statistical analysis and computer applications.

Full survey results are included in the report “Quality of Life in the Central San Joaquin Valley: 2001 through 2007.” For more information or a copy of the report, contact Nelson at or call 559.278.2275.