Trick-or-Treater Index? What’s Yours?

Lots of trick-or-treaters on Halloween is an indicator that your neighborhood is good for kids.  Photo credit: Flickr user 'jena ardell'

[Note: This article was originally published in October 2008.]

In order to rate the child friendliness of a neighborhood, Richard Florida, author of Who’s Your City? and The Rise of the Creative Class, has coined an intriguing concept: the “Trick-or-Treater Index.”

The idea is simple: just count the number of trick-or-treaters at your door on Halloween night and you’ll get a measure of how child friendly your neighborhood is the whole year. Certainly, it’s quite simplistic, but I would agree that neighborhoods with lots of trick-or-treaters tend to have lots of children who are comfortable being outside in their neighborhood.

What’s your trick-or-treater index? Where do you live? What do you think of this as a measure of the child friendliness?

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7 Responses to Trick-or-Treater Index? What’s Yours?

  1. Michael Tarr says:

    Ah! Interesting. Our first Halloween (2006) in our new urban home in Providence I bought probably 3-5 big bags of “minis” – those little snickers, etc. It was all gone by 6:30 and I had to frantically head back to CVS for more. It was gone by 7:30. One more run and that was all used up be evenings’ end!

    Last year we were better prepared – had excessive amounts of candy. All gone by 7:30 when we turned off the lights and hid so we could get our kids to bed.

    This year our 5 year old is old enough that he wants to be out and about, so we won’t be home as much. So we only have about 6 lbs or so of the stuff, but I am sure it will be toast by night’s end!

    I would estimate we see 200-300 kids on our block. Wow. Who knew?

    Best, Mike Tarr

  2. Michael Tarr says:

    PS. I still owe Lanza a write-up of why we moved into Providence (from the Burbs), why we have stayed in Providence despite chances to move to both western and southern cities, and why we love living in an expensive and crappier house, but with the neighbors we have both right here and in the larger neighborhood!

  3. Ingrid says:

    That’s funny – I was just telling my husband that we need to move to a neighborhood where kids can easily go trick or treating – that that’s what kind of neighborhood we want.

  4. Michael Tarr says:

    Providence (east side anyway)!
    We expect MORE kids this year because of keeping to Daylight Savings Time til after Halloween.

  5. knitmensch says:

    We only got about 30 trick-or-treaters in our south Boulder, CO neighborhood this year, in a neighborhood where people are often out playing. But based on past experiences, I have a thought to share about this: If you live in a safe, friendly-feeling neighborhood AND you’re near kid-rich neighborhoods that aren’t so safe, you get more trick-or-treaters, as they come where they and their parents feel safer. Last year I lived in a new north Boulder neighborhood of houses and townhomes near an older mobile-home park, and there were more trick-or-treaters than here. Back in the Bay Area the same was true — in the East Bay at least, neighborhoods of different socioeconomic levels and/or crime levels are woven fine. Here, though, none of the nearby neighborhoods are markedly different from ours in how safe or friendly they feel, so we just get the kids from our own neighborhood.

    So yes, having a fair number of trick-or-treaters probably means kids and their parents feel good on your street, but the absolute number may tell you more about nearby neighborhoods than it does about your own.

  6. bravo2 says:

    I don’t know that the trick-or-treat index has anything to do with how “friendly” the neighborhood is. We’ve lived on a cul-de-sac of 30 houses for about 12 years and the youngest of our 4 boys is a high school senior this year. When we first moved here about half the houses still had the original owners (now retired) and the rest of us had young families. Most of us still live here but our kids are now grown and for the most part gone. We still get a fair amount of treaters but not like before. I predict as the retirees sell their homes and young families start moving in we’ll see a resurgence of treaters. It’s a cycle. We have 2 new neighborhoods of more expensive houses that have been built beside our street. Some families bypass our safe, quiet street for what’s perceived as what must be better treats from the nicer houses. That has more to do with their greed than whether we’re friendly. Oh well!

  7. jjwsk says:

    I agree with bravo2. There are other things going on in addition to how safe kids feel. It is a matter of familiarity, natural numberfs and distance. We have only 6 kids on a long dead end block that is surrounded by a lake, woods and dead ends at a park. Who would walk all this way to trick or treat? But our street is busy with bikers, scooters, dog-walkers, strollers being pushed etc all other times of the year. As the empty nesters leave and young ones move in, I imagine the numbers will pick up.