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August 2011

Marriage Leads to A Longer Life! Come Join Me All You Singles!

There is a very old joke that goes something like this…”Married men live longer than single men…or maybe it just feels that way.”  Of course, being happily married, still my first, for quite a number of years, I can attest to the opposite – I feel great!

Now a new review of studies questions what singlehood brings to the table.  It says that, while singles may tout the benefits of their lifestyle, longevity is probably not one of them.

Researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky analyzed 90 past studies on the subject, and found that men who stay single may die eight to 17 years before married men, while women who stay single may die seven to 15 years before married women. Researchers said this could be attributed to the fact that there is more social support and public assistance for married couples. For example, a recent study showed that married men manage to get to a hospital for a heart attack sooner than single men.  Obviously there is someone complaining in the background that “you never want to go to the doctor!  You are going this time Mister!”

According to the new review in the American Journal of Epidemiology, single men have a 32 percent higher risk of death over their lifetimes compared with married men, while single women have a 23 percent higher risk of death over their lifetimes than married women.

A number of caveats and questions have been raised about the findings.

  1. The researchers looked at studies conducted on the subject that were published over the last 60 years.
  2. The analysis doesn’t take into account the impact of a bad marriage on longevity, certainly a negative contributor to health.
  3. The review of studies also only defined married people as people who remained married throughout their lives, not divorced or widowed people who were at once married but then became single. [However, a study of 67,000 Americans from 2006 showed that single people still tend to die sooner than widowed, divorced and separated people, in addition to married people.]

Since readers expect my blogs to contain some local data in the mix, allow me to provide some marital statistics.  These data represent residents of the 6-county (Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne) Detroit metropolitan area.  I decided to also use an age range of 25-64 years of age for my analysis.  I figured that those under 25 years are still looking and those who have made it to 65 years and beyond have done a good bit of living either married or single.

Looking at the numbers (see Table 1), we can see that, while the share of divorced residents went up slightly between 2000 and 2009, the real change occurred in the shift between the ‘now married’ and ‘single, never married’ categories.

 Table 1.  Marital Status of Persons 25 – 64 Years of Age in Metropolitan Detroit

The share of single, never married males showed a significant increase, growing beyond 1 of every 4 in 2009, while their married counterparts decreased toward the 50 percent mark.

While a smaller share of women are single, never married (though they are much more likely to be single due to divorce or widowhood), that share still grew at a rate similar to that of males and now number 1 of every 4.  Combined with the other ‘single’ categories, the share of married females 25 to 64 years of age equals that for males.

The trend is clear – singlehood is growing in metro Detroit.  Will this lead to a decrease in years of life expectancy?  Stay tuned.  D3 will be there to track it.

Just remember:  Whether single or married, experts still say that life expectancy can be extended through exercise, staying positive, eating more fiber and having a friendly workplace.

Metro Detroit Real Estate – Great Deals In A Great Area!

g_ask_kurt_bustWhile the local housing market is a bargain for those looking to get in, the drop in value has many current owners “singing the blues.”

The signs are clear.  Michigan ranks high among states in the percentage of home owners “under water” with their mortgages and continues to rank in the top 10 states for foreclosures.  2010 Census figures showed the share of metro Detroiters who own their residence decreased in every county, with a resultant increase in renters.  Increased renters did not result from a plethora of new apartment complexes, but rather from single-family homeowners who  moved but could not afford to sell their homes at such large losses and turned to renting it out instead.

The Standard & Poor’s Case–Shiller Home Price Indices are constant-quality house price indices for the United States, that are calculated from data on repeat sales of single-family homes. There are multiple Case–Shiller home price indices: A national home price index, a 20-city composite index, a 10-city composite index, and twenty individual metro area indices (with metro-Detroit being one of the 20). The index is published monthly and uses a method that is able to adjust for the quality of the homes sold.  The composite, city and metro indices were normalized to have a value of 100 in January 2000.

The following chart tracks the annual index average from January 2000 through May 2011.

Table 1.  Home Price Index for Metro Detroit, 2000 – 2011

One can see that housing values in 2005 had increased by 25 percent over their 2000 starting value.  However, the bubble burst in 2005 and the values began to plummet.  As we look at the latest index report for May 2011, we find that metro Detroit housing values stand at their lowest level since September 1993, just 63 percent of where they were on January 2000 and just half of the value at their peak in February 2006.  Among the 20 metropolitan areas tracked, only Cleveland and Las Vegas have lost value since 2000, with Cleveland at 99 percent and Las Vegas at 97 percent (Detroit is at 64 percent).

The headlines read, “Troubled home market creates generation of renters.”  My headline reads, “The metro Detroit housing market is open for business.”  Though many current owners cannot afford to sell, their still is a glut of good housing stock vacant and on the market.  All signs point to a market bottom.  It is time to get in while the getting is good.

Detroit is a bargain just waiting for those of you who recognize a good deal and a great place to live!

Elk Grove Sets An Example for All Our Communities to Follow. How About Our Own Pledge to Diversity?

g_ask_kurt_bustToday, August 1, the city of Elk Grove, California launches a diversity campaign that recognizes Elk Grove’s demographics and offers an online pledge.

The campaign comes on the heels of the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that 70,478 of Elk Grove’s 153,015 residents are white, meaning nonwhites now outnumber whites for the first time in Elk Grove community history.

“The census data showed us the city has a very diverse population,” said city spokesperson Christine Brainerd, who is spearheading the campaign.

The online pledge that residents, and anyone else who recognizes the importance of diversity, can take states the following:

“I realize no one in Elk Grove is exactly like me and that’s an amazing thing.

“I respect my neighbors for the things we have in common and for our differences.

“I resolve that we all need to get along to make our community the best it can be.

“I pledge: peace, love, friendship, unity, acceptance, tolerance, and respect for Elk Grove.”

People can input their names which will be included in the matting of a framed poster used in the campaign. That framed poster will become another piece of public art. In addition, persons who take the online pledge can also upload a picture that will be routed into a diversity face jumble that shows a different picture every time the web page is refreshed.

When I read about this campaign I was inspired to share it with the metropolitan Detroit community.  The last two decades have brought incredible changes to the region and all the communities within.

The decade of the 1990s was one of growth through unprecedented immigration streams – from Asia, the Middle East, Mexico and South America and Eastern Europe.  The most recent decade was marked by decreasing immigration but unprecedented movement of the African American community from the city of Detroit to the suburbs.  the war in Iraq brought large numbers of Chaldean refugees to our region, while the Arab, Asian and Latino communities continued to grow.

While the majority of our communities may not reach the 50+ percent mark for persons of color that was found in Elk Grove, each can look around and see the wonderful mix of diversity that was not there a decade or so ago.  Remember that our diversity is much more than the Federal government measures.  In addition to African American, Asian, Native American and Latinos, we must celebrate those of us who broaden our diversity but usually come out White in the Census: our Arab brothers and sisters, from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc., our large Chaldean community, Eastern Europeans from Romania, Russia, Albania, and many, many more.

While every community in Southeast Michigan could mirror Elk Grove, perhaps a better way of recognizing the strength of our region and the need for Regional Unity is to initiate a “Southeast Michigan Diversity Pledge.”  I am ready…how about you?