Lower Life Expectancy Related to Lack of Health Insurance

The correlation between life expectancy and those who are uninsured is -0.617 (sig. 0.00), meaning that there is moderately strong tendency for the length of life to decline as lack of access to health care (i.e. being uninsured) increases. In general, those without health insurance tend to live shorter lives. For example, in the City of Detroit, there are more than 25 different Census Tracts where residents have a life expectancy of 70 years of age or less. Of those Census Tracts, majority of them have 21 percent of the population or more living without health insurance. Even as life expectancy increases to the median range of the spectrum in Detroit, the evidence shows that majority of the Census Tracts have about 13 percent of the population or more without health insurance. Interestingly though, only one of the four Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is 65 years of age has 21 percent or more of the population living without health insurance. The other three Census Tracts with such an average life expectancy has between 13 and 21 percent of the population living without health insurance.

When moving beyond the boundaries of Detroit, in many of the outer-ring suburbs life expectancy increases as does the percentage of residents with health care. For example, majority of Washtenaw, St. Clair and Monroe counties have less than 13 percent of the populations living without health insurance and average life expectancies at 76 years of age or higher. With the exception of one Census Tract in southern Monroe County, no other areas in those three outlying counties have more than 21 percent of the population living without health insurance. As you do move in closer to Detroit though, there are wider ranges of life expectancies and access to health care. In Wayne County, for example, areas such as Romulus and Lincoln Park also have lower life expectancies (70 years of age or less) and more than 21 percent of the population not having health insurance. But, there are also areas, such as Grosse Ile, where the average life expectancy is 86 years of age and above and 8 percent or less of the population do not have health insurance. While the average life expectancy tends to be higher in Macomb and Oakland counties, there are still pockets, such as South Warren, Mt. Clemens and Pontiac, where the average life expectancy is 70 years of age or less and those without health insurance is at about 13 percent or higher.

As has been shown through some of the examples above, there is a moderately strong negative correlation between the percentage of the population living without health insurance and the average life expectancy of Census Tracts in Southeastern Michigan. This is further demonstrated in the chart above, which ultimately shows that as the percentage of the population living without health insurance increases the average life expectancy decreases. The chart also shows though that majority of the Census Tracts in Southeastern Michigan have an average life expectancy of about 75 years of age or higher with 10 percent of less of the population living without health insurance.


Overall, these maps and the graph show that while there is a range in life expectancies in Southeastern Michigan, there is also a range in those with access to health care, particularly those in and around Detroit. Access to health care is important as health care providers can not only treat, but also prevent, a plethora of illnesses and diseases. Such knowledge and treatment is vital for longer life expectancies.

Economic Indicators: Unemployment Drops in Detroit

  • In November unemployment rates remain stagnant at the state level, decrease in Detroit;
  • Majority of Southeastern Michigan counties have higher average weekly wages than the national average;
  • Housing prices continue to rise in Metro-Detroit.

In November of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 3.9, a rate that did not change from the previous month, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for November of 2017 was 0.7 points above what it was in November of 2018.

The Detroit rate was 1.3 points lower in November of 2018 from the previous month. Also, the November 2018 unemployment rate for Detroit was 0.2 points higher than what it was in November of 2017.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for November of 2017 and 2018. All declined except for Livingston, which stayed the same. In November of 2018 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 4.6, with St. Clair County having the second highest regional unemployment rate 4.1. Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw counties were the only three in the region with unemployment rates at or below 3 in November of 2018. The unemployment rate for Livingston County was 2.9, the unemployment rate for Oakland County was 3 and the unemployment rate for Washtenaw County was 2.6.

Washtenaw County experienced the largest decline, with the November 2017 unemployment rate being 3.3 and the November 2018 unemployment rate being 2.6.

Regionally, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, Oakland County has the highest average weekly wages for all industries at $1,168, with Washtenaw County following closely at $1,134 and Wayne County just behind that at $1,125. The U.S. average weekly earnings were $887; St. Clair and Livingston counties are the only two in the region with average weekly earnings below the national average.

The above chart shows the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area. The index includes the price for homes that have sold but does not include the price of new home construction, condos, or homes that have been remodeled.

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $124,840 in November 2018; this was $30 lower than the average family dwelling price in October. The November 2018 price was an increase of $6,990 from November of 2017 and an increase of $15,050 from November of 2016, an increase of $21,570 from November of 2015 and increase of $26,620 from November of 2014. Note that the amount of annual increase is declining steadily.

Poverty Affects Life Expectancy in Detroit, Region

There is a huge variation in life expectancies in Southeastern Michigan, from an average of 62 years in the lowest Census Tract to a high in 85.9 in the highest tract. Moreover life expectancy is closely and negatively related to poverty. The correlation between life expectancy and poverty is -0.713 (sig. 0.01), meaning that there is moderately strong tendency for the length of life to decline as poverty increases in a tract. Or, put simply, poor people die sooner, a lot sooner. Both the maps and chart below present the relationship between shorter life expectancy and poverty or conversely lower levels of poverty in a tract and higher average life expectancy. At the same time, the majority of the areas in Southeastern Michigan have 20 percent or fewer of families living below the poverty line, along with average life expectancies between about 75 and 85 years of age. For reference, the average life expectancy in the United States is about 79 years of age and the federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,300. In 2017 12.7 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty.

For the City of Detroit there is an average life expectancy across tracts is 71 to 75 years of age, although there are several Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is well below 70. Most of the Census Tracts in Detroit, especially those with lower life expectancies, have more than 28 percent of the population living at or below the poverty line. Specifically, there are three Census Tracts in Detroit where the average life expectancy is between 62 and 65 and the percentage of the population living below the poverty line ranges from about 29-100 percent (the highest threshold in the Detroit map below). While Detroit demonstrates the correlation between higher than average poverty rates and lower life expectancy, there are certain parts of the region where the life expectancy is about on par with the national average (78.8 years of age) but the percentage of the population live in poverty is at or below the national poverty rate (12.7 percent). These examples occur in the mainly the rural areas of the region, such as parts of St. Clair, Livingston and Monroe counties. In general though, radiating out beyond Detroit and the inner-ring suburbs, poverty levels decrease, and the average life expectancy increases. For example, in nearly all of western Washtenaw County the average life expectancy ranges from 81-85 with the poverty levels being at or below 12 percent.

As has been attributed in some of the specific examples noted above, there is a moderately high negative correlation between the percentage of the population living at or below the poverty line and the average life expectancy of Census Tracts in Southeastern Michigan. When looking at the median poverty levels of the region with the life expectancies there is a -0.713 P value, which is statistically significant at the .01 level. What this means is that as the percent in poverty increases, there is a tendency for average life expectancy to decrease.

Overall, these maps show that throughout Southeastern Michigan there is a wide range in life expectancy and poverty levels, with outer ring suburbs faring better and more urban areas, such as Detroit, and some rural areas faring worse. While we see here that poverty does relate to average life expectancy rates, other factors that may also affect average life expectancy include access to health care and educational attainment. The correlation between these factors and the average life expectancy will be explored in the next two posts.

Ethanol Fueled Vehicles Most Popular Among Those Powered by Alternative Fuels

With alternative energy sources slowly growing more popular for consumption, there are also certain sources that remain popular to fuel vehicles. The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides data on the number of vehicles that are powered by alternative energy sources. Ethanol is by far the most commonly used alternative fuel source used to power vehicles, followed by electric hybrid vehicles. While the use of some of these alternative fuel sources is growing, most of the fuel sources have experienced a decrease in use in recent years.

Of the alternative fuels sources the U.S. Energy Information Administration provides information on, ethanol was the most highly used fuel source. Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from corn and other plant materials.

In 2004 there were 674,678 vehicles that used ethanol as a fuel source. By 2013 that number reached its peak at more than 2.6 million vehicles using ethanol as a fuel source. While the number of vehicles using ethanol as a fuel source has declined in recent years ( in 2016 about 1.4 million vehicles used it as a fuel source), it still remains the most utilized renewable fuel source for vehicles.

The number of gas-electric hybrid vehicles produced on an annual basis has been increasing since 2004. In 2004 there were 88,272 gas-electric hybrid vehicles and in 2016 that number was 399,367. It was in 2013 when there was the most number of gas-electric hybrid vehicles, that number was 458,994.

The use of diesel-electric hybrid vehicles has not been as popular and has not grown as much as gas-hybrid vehicle. In 2004 there were 419 diesel-electric hybrid vehicles and by 2016 that number had only grown to 1,053. The number of diesel-electric hybrid vehicles peaked in 2009 at 2,223.

The use of electric vehicles didn’t really take off until 2013 when there was an inventory of 130,323. Between 2004 and 2010 though there were no more than 3,200 electric vehicles each of those years. It was in 2011 when the use of electric vehicles began to take off, and by 2016 there were 160,191 electric vehicles.

While compressed natural gas is widely available, its utilization as a fuel source falls below many of the other renewable fuel sources available to vehicles. In 2016 there were 5,730 vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas, a number that is below how many there were in 2004 (7,752). It was in 2013 when there was the most amount of vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas, that number was 9,454.

Michigan’s Energy Production Needs to Shift Toward Renewable Sources

While the types of energy consumed in Michigan vary amongst sources, the energy produced in Michigan is much more limited. For example, no coal powered energy is produced in Michigan. Rather, the coal consumed in the state is brought in from other states, particularly those west of Michigan, on railways.

The information provided in this post from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

At one point, natural gas was the largest energy source in Michigan, reaching its peak production at 312 trillion BTUs in 2000. Since then, the amount of natural gas produced in Michigan has steadily declined. Between 2007 and 2008 the amount of natural gas produced in Michigan declined from 275 trillion BTUs to 162 trillion BTUs. In 2016, 107 trillion BTUs of natural gas energy was produced.

Crude oil production has ranged between 45 and 32 trillion BTUs since 2000, with various peaks and valleys between then and 2016. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Michigan ranks 19th out of the 50 states for crude oil production. In 2016, 32.1 trillion BTUs of crude oil was produced. This is a decrease from the 45.9 trillion BTUs produced in 2000.

Crude oil production in the state comes from reserves; in 2017 about 5.4 million barrels of crude oil were produced compared to the 34.7 million barrels that were produced in 1979. Please note the chart references BTUs, while barrels of crude oil is another measurement used to detail production of this energy source.

Nuclear energy is the energy source that is produced the most in Michigan. In 2016 there were 330 trillion BTUs produced, up from the 200 produced in 2000. There are three nuclear power plants in Michigan, which produce about 30 percent of the electricity used in the state. While there have been some changes in the amount of nuclear energy produced in Michigan, it has remained at around 325 trillion BTU average for the last 15 years.

The amount of renewable energy produced in Michigan, both from biofuels and other sources, has grown since 2000, but none of those sources total the amount of energy produced by the state’s natural gas or nuclear energy sources. For biofuels, in 2002 there was zero energy production by this source. Since then it has increased to 37.7 trillion BTUs. For other renewable energy sources, which include wind, solar and hydroelectric energy, there has been a slow increase in production, with somewhat of a spike in 2014. In 2014 there were 164 trillion BTUs of renewable energy produced in Michigan; in 2016 there were 156.9 trillion BTUs.

The production of renewable energy in Michigan has been increasing since 2000, although there has been a slight decline in such production since 2014. In 2014, 202.2 trillion BTUs of renewable energy were produced in Michigan, and in 2016 that number slightly decreased to 194.6. However, the 2016 production rate is almost double the amount of renewable energy that that was being produced in 2000; in 2000 110.5 trillion BTUs of renewable energy was produced.

In the state of Michigan, the types of energy that make up renewable energy include biomass, solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric energy. Despite increases in consumption, carbon-based energy sources are still consumed far more than renewable energy sources.

While the production of carbon-based energy sources in Michigan is far less than the amount consumed, there is still clearly a heavy reliance on these energy sources. Additionally, renewable energy is consumed more in Michigan than produced (click here to view consumption rates in our last post). With carbon-based energy source consumption and renewable energy source consumption both outweighing the amount produced in the state, it would make sense, on multiple levels, for energy policies to shift toward further encouragement, and enforcement, of creating more renewable energy production sources in the state. Not only would such policies mean increased production of clean energy, but it would also mean decreased reliance on carbon-based energy and energy sources produced outside of the state.

Turkeys, Chickens and Ducks

As Thanksgiving approaches it is worth noting that our state has had a great success in expanding wild turkey populations across the state from near extinction in 1900 to over 200,000 birds across the state nowadays. All but the most densely populated areas of Southeastern Michigan have wild turkeys. And now they will find many cities are allowing their domesticated cousins—chickens. And at least one has added ducks.

Across Southeastern Michigan there are 30 communities that allow for residents to house chickens on their property, according to recent research conducted by the Detroit Free Press. These communities have various ways of allowing residents to have the chickens on their property. For example, in the City of Warren residents are allowed to have three hens and pay a $10 registration fee to have the chickens. In the City of Berkley though restrictions are bit tighter, with only five permits available for residents to have backyard chickens.

It is within the purview of each community as to whether or not they want to allow backyard chickens and to what extent they will be allowed. This local control comes from a rule the Michigan Agriculture Commission adopted in 2014 that essentially states not everyone can claim rights under the Right to Farm Act. The rule is intended to protect the overall goal of the Right to Farm Act, which is to protect industrial sized farmers in rural communities. The local control aspect of backyard livestock and poultry allows more suburban and urban communities to decide what is best for their community and residents. As noted above some communities only allow a certain number of permits to be distributed, while others require a fee to be paid, and only a certain number of hens to be owned by an individual. While there are 30 communities in Southeastern Michigan that allow residents to own chickens, there are 21 that have banned them. Ann Arbor recently added ducks to the list of animals backyard farmers can cultivate.

Reasons individuals want to house chickens in their backyard typically links back to wanting the chicken’s eggs. Hens can lay up to five eggs per week. Reasons communities cite for wanting to ban them include the allegation that the chickens, and their feed, may attract rats and that the hens themselves may be a noise nuisance.

Population Shifts Reflect Aftermath of Economic Distress, Change

Last week we examined the density of the various racial, ethnic and ancestral backgrounds in Southeastern Michigan and this week we further explore how those populations have grown or declined, regionally between 2010 and 2016. One of the fascinating results of this analysis is that it demonstrates a clear reversal in the long term trend for Caucasian population to exit Detroit. This has reversed with substantial increases in the percentage of whites in some inner city areas of Detroit. We see a similar trend in Pontiac in Oakland County. As the first map below shows, population growth above 51 percent or more occurred in the Downtown Detroit, Midtown, West Village, New Center, Boston Edison, Corktown and Palmer Park areas of Detroit. These areas have been popular areas of redevelopment in recent years. Another possible reason for this growth is that homes in Detroit, for example, cost far less than other areas of the metropolitan area, and this makes renting or home ownership feasible when it might not be, after losses of income due to the decline of industry and the job market. One note of caution—the big increases for whites occur with respect to very small base populations. So, big increases might not mean that many people.

As the second map shows, most of Detroit experienced a loss of the African American population between 2010 and 2016. While Detroit experienced a loss of the African American population, there were increases of this population in areas such as Warren, Eastpointe, Dearborn and several outer-ring suburbs. This represents a continuation of a decades long migration outward from Detroit. As job markets integrate, it may be rational for African Americans to seek to be closer to job locations in the suburbs, where, after all, job growth has been higher than in Detroit.

The same forces are in play for the Latinx population. There were also population increases above 51 percent for those of Hispanic or Latinx descent in the region’s outer-ring suburbs, as the third map below shows.

For the Arab ancestry map (the fourth map), we see that there are several areas in the region, including in much of Detroit, where this population is minimal or not present. Where it was present in Detroit, it has been rapidly declining. Conversely, the Arab ancestral population’s growth is expanding in areas of western Macomb and both the eastern and western portion of the southern half of Oakland County.

Overall these maps remind us that population changes that have been steady for decades can change in unexpected ways in just a very few years, especially after a decade of economic distress and change.

Detroit’s Ex-Urban Areas Lack Diversity, Density

The purpose of this post is to show the population density of race, ethnicity and ancestry throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Each dot in the maps represents 500 people and the race, ethnicity or ancestry of that concentration. The groups represented on the maps are those of Arab ancestry, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, non-Hispanic black or African American and non-Hispanic white or Caucasian. As shown in the first map, there are various concentrations of each throughout Southeastern Michigan, with those of non-Hispanic black or African American and non-Hispanic white or Caucasian being the most prominent across the region.

A deeper look at the map, and the individual maps, shows that the Caucasian population has the broadest distribution across in the region, with the highest concentrations in Detroit’s northern suburbs (See Below). The only truly notable absence of the Caucasian population in the map below is in Highland Park and in some areas of Detroit.

The group with the next highest population distribution is the African American population, with the largest concentration being in the City of Detroit. Other areas with high-density African American populations are the southern areas of the inner-ring suburbs of Detroit, Southfield, and Inkster, with increasing density in some down river communities and southern Macomb County, especially Warren. Additionally, as can be seen in the map below, Pontiac also is one of the higher density areas with an African American population.

When looking at the first map above, attention is also drawn to the Southwest portion of Detroit, where there is the highest density of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the region. Allen Park, Lincoln Park and Melvindale also have a higher density of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the region. The individual map also shows that there is also some concentration of the Hispanic or Latino population in Pontiac.


The final group examined in this post is those of Arab ancestry, and the highest density of this group is in eastern area of Dearborn and in Hamtramck. Dearborn Heights also has among the highest density of those of Arab ancestry. As the Arab ancestry map shows though, western Macomb County, eastern Oakland County and some western Oakland County communities are also the areas of the Southeastern Michigan where those of Arab ancestry live.

As noted, the above maps highlight the population density of various racial, ethnic and ancestral groups in the region. The outlying suburban and ex-urban areas of the region have much lower population density, along with far lower diversity.

Next week we will examine the how the percentage of each of these populations changed between 2010 and 2016.



Elderly Population Continues to Grow in Southeastern Michigan

While there are only 10 communities in Southeastern Michigan with more than 21 percent of the population 65 years of age or older, the number of communities with a growing elderly population is far greater than those with a declining elderly population. According to the data, majority of the rural communities throughout Southeastern Michigan-Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston, St. Clair and northern Macomb and Oakland counties-have seen the greatest increases in a growing elderly population. Overall, St. Clair County’s elderly population grew the most between 2010 and 2016, with nine of the communities experiencing between 6 and 13 percent increases in the 65 years of age and older population. In St. Clair County, Algonac (21%), China Township (22%) and East China Township (26%) had the highest percentage of elderly residents in 2016. However, it was Lake Angelus, in northern Oakland County, that had the highest percentage of resident 65 years of age or older at 35 percent.

Detroit, and its inner and outer ring suburbs have the highest concentration of the aging population that is growing at a slower rate. As the second map below shows, majority of the Detroit suburbs did not experience a growth of the 65 years of age and older population above 2.5 percent between 2010 and 2016. In fact, some of those communities (Hamtramck, Grosse Pointe, Redford, Dearborn Heights) experienced an overall decline in the 65 years of age and older population between 2010 and 2016. In Detroit, the 65 years of age and older population only grew by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2016. According to the data, in 2010 the elderly population was at 11 percent and by 2016 it grew to 12.6 percent. In Hamtramck, the 65 years of age population decreased from 9.1 percent in 2010 to 7.8 percent in 2016.

According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, by 2025 the number of people above the age of 65 will outnumber those 17 and younger. Nationally, such a growth of the elderly population isn’t expected to occur until 2035. There are varying reasons for the growth of the 65 years of age and older population locally, and nationally, including better medical advancements allowing people to live longer and the decline in birth rates over the year. One reason for what appears to be the quicker growth of the aging population in Michigan though is the fact that over about the last decade, particularly during the Great Recession, people have left to find jobs elsewhere. So, in short, out-migration has contributed to the fact that Michigan’s elderly population will outnumber its younger population within the next decade.

Detroit’s HIV Rates Highest in the Region

The City of Detroit had the highest HIV rate per 100,000 people in the Metro-Detroit region, according to the most recent data released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The rate per 100,000 people as of January 2018 was 718. Regionally, Wayne County (excluding the City of Detroit) had the second highest rate per 100,000 people at 190. Livingston County had the lowest rate in the region at 54 per 100,000 people. While there is no single reason as to why Detroit has such a high HIV rate (more than four times that of the State’s average rate) there is belief among experts, according to a recent Detroit Free Press article, that it is tied to socioeconomic factors like poverty, health care access and transportation for health care access. In Detroit, according to the most recent Census data, 57 percent of the population has public health insurance coverage and 15 percent has no health insurance. According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, the number of new people diagnosed with HIV cases Michigan has remained fairly stable since the early 2000s, but there has been an increase in the number of young African American gay and bisexual men who have been diagnosed in recent years. Additionally, of those diagnosed with HIV in the State of Michigan, about 51 percent are between the ages of 40-59 years old and 78 percent of Michigan’s population living with HIV are males.

While medical advancements are being made toward finding a cure for HIV, that has yet to occur. Rather, to control and prevent the virus from evolving into AIDS, those diagnosed need to carefully and consistently treat the disease. In Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, about 20 percent of the diagnosed HIV population goes without regular treatment. Reasons for this are not concrete but it can be speculated that it is related to income, access to health care and overall knowledge on the disease and its treatment. For example, the average lifetime cost for HIV treatment is estimated to be about $400,000 and the annual median income in Detroit is about $26,000. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services those most likely to not receive consistent care in Michigan are: those between the ages of 20-29 (23 percent not receiving treatment), foreign-born individuals (32 percent), Hispanic males (25 percent) and those who inject drugs (23 percent).


Although the numbers show that those becoming infected with HIV remains a problem, funding at the State level has dropped over the years. In 2017 $19.4 million was allocated towards assisting those with HIV (medication, medical transportation and services). In Detroit, and throughout the region, there are several options for an individual to receive help. For more information, click here.