Editor’s note: The Center continues a series of comments from Kurt Metzger of Data Driven Detroit on what the 2010 census results mean for Michigan today, and tomorrow. Metzger worked for the U.S. Census Bureau for 15 years and has been studying demographic data and issues in Michigan for three decades.
The Census Bureau has released detailed data from the 2010 Census that allows us to look more deeply into the racial and ethnic trends that portray the diversified future Michigan has in store for itself.
Figure 1 provides a visual representation of Michigan’s age and race/ethnic structure. It is clear that, with two exceptions, the share in persons of color increases steadily with decreasing age. Those two exceptions are sequential cohorts — “30-34 years” and “35 to 39 years” — and represent many of the immigrants who arrived in Michigan during the 1990s and have aged 10 years, as well as a smaller group of immigrants since 2000. The chart represents a three-fold increase in the share of persons of color as one goes from the oldest to the youngest cohort.
All cohorts below 40 years of age have higher shares than the state average. The largest increase between cohorts is seen in the two youngest groups, signaling the larger contributions that persons of color are making to Michigan’s birth numbers.
Before we begin to look at age distributions by gender across racial and ethnic groups, I thought it would be interesting, particularly in the light of new tests that allow early determination of a baby’s gender, to see how gender plays out across the age spectrum.
Figure 2 shows the share of males in each age cohort. It is clear that, because more male babies are born than female babies, males claim the majority of each cohort from birth to 29 years of age. Beginning with the 30-34 years cohort, women begin to outnumber men and show a gradual, but steady, increase in their share through the 65-69 years cohort. The life expectancy differential begins to take hold after about 72 years of age and the male share drops quickly. Once the population reaches 85 years and over, women outnumber men better than 2 to 1.
Figure 3 illustrates a population pyramid for the total population in Michigan. This is another way of illustrating the male/female share by age group. One can see that the lowest bar (0-4 years) is slightly longer for males, while the top bar (85 years and over) is significantly longer for females.
Figure 4 illustrates the population pyramid for the white, non-Hispanic population. The high end/low end pattern discussed above is exaggerated here due to the fact that white women tend to have longer life expectancy than any other group. Another observation is that the bars for the lower age cohorts are shorter, indicating that, due to decreasing birth rates, young children account for a smaller share of the white, non-Hispanic population than for other race/ethnic groups, and hence a smaller share than in the general population as a whole.
One other distinguishing characteristic of the pyramid is the large bulge one sees in the age cohorts between 40 and 64 years of age. This represents the baby boom years of 1946 to 1964, with a small tail from 1965 to 1969 when birth numbers were still high. It is only in the white, non-Hispanic population that this bulge is so noticeable.
Males account for the smallest overall share of population for African Americans (47.5 percent vs. 49.1 percent in total population) than any other race/ethnic groups (Figure 5). A look at their population pyramid shows that males outnumber females only through the 15-19 years cohort. In addition, their younger age structure is clearly shown by the higher percentages that the younger cohorts account for in the African-American population than in the white, non-Hispanic population. This holds true until the age of 40 years.
One can also see an extremely large cohort of 15- to 19-year olds nestled between smaller cohorts. This pattern is probably due to a number of factors, including the high numbers of births that occurred between 1988 and 1993 (especially in Detroit and other cities with high shares of African Americans), high death rates for African-American males in their early 20s, and high rates of undercounting in the Census for African-American males in their 20s. The shorter life expectancy of African-American males begins to take its toll earlier and the overall shorter life expectancy of African Americans is clear in their smaller shares at the top of the pyramid.
The Native American population (Figure 6) shows a pattern somewhat similar to that of African Americans, though males outnumber females through the age of 29, and even gain advantage again in the 40-44 years cohort. Males have a higher share of the population in every age cohort, with the exception of 85 years and over, than they do in the general population. Once again one sees the 15-19 years bulge. (Figure 6 — Population Pyramid for the Native American Population in Michigan, 2010)
The Asian population pyramid (Figure 7) shows characteristics of an immigrant group in that the highest shares of the population fall in the cohorts between 20 and 44 years of age. The largest streams of immigrants tend to arrive in their late 20s and early 30s, and many of our Asian residents are arriving with college degrees or coming here to acquire college degrees. The younger age structure, combined with high degrees of husband-wife families, are driving larger shares of young children that in the general population. While Asian men outnumber women only to the age of 24 years, they tend to have higher shares across the age spectrum – particularly in the older cohorts – than any other group.
The final group that we have to observe is the Latino/Hispanic population. The way the Census is conducted, with separate questions for Race and Hispanic origin, Latinos may be of any race.
The first thing one realizes with this pyramid – Figure 8 – is the fact that it IS A PYRAMID! The concept of a population pyramid came about in the baby boom years when births were rising and each successively younger age cohort accounted for an increasing percent of the population. Birth trends in the general public, and all race groups, have changed the shape to a gradually evolving rectangle. This is not the case with the Latino population, however.
Not only do the bars increase in size as the age cohorts decrease, but you will see that the axis range had to be increased from a high of 5.5 percent to one of 6.5 percent. This is because, while the 0-4 years cohort for the total population accounts for about 3 percent for both males and females, the youngest age group accounts for double that in the Latino population. This “bottom heavy” age structure holds throughout the youth cohorts. The Latino population is a very young population that still has relatively high birth rates – particularly among recent immigrants. While it has not grown in Michigan to the degree it has in other parts of the country, it is clear that its age structure will drive population growth in the future.
The evidence is clear: The 2010 Census results have shown that Michigan is diversifying, with more than 30 percent growth for both the Asian and Latino populations. While the recession has resulted in population losses among whites, African Americans and Native Americans, there is growth in the multi-race category, giving us some clues as to the growth occurring in other ethnic groups – Arab Americans, Chaldeans, Eastern Europeans, Africans and more – all of whom are contributing to a richer, more exciting, more diverse Michigan.