A Look at Data: Increased Births and Decreased Deaths in Oakland County
(Kurt Metzger, Director Emeritus, Data Driven Detroit / Mayor, Pleasant Ridge,Aug. 9, 2014)
Have you looked around your community of late and noticed more strollers and small people o the streets? I know I have and recognize it as a sign that Pleasant Ridge is recognized for its quality of life and child-centric recreation opportunities. Pleasant Ridge is certainly not alone among Oakland County communities in this trend.
Preliminary figures recently released by the Michigan Department of Community Health for 2013 show that, while births in Michigan continue to trend downward, Oakland County experienced an increase in births (no increase in birth rate) between 2012 and 2013. Year-to-year birth increases have been very rare of late, occurring only 4 times since 1990. The 122 birth increase to 13,429 in 2013 was the third largest of the four.
Oakland County births reached their highest number in 1990 at 17,008. (See Figure 1) That number has decreased rather steadily since then, falling by 21 percent over the last 23 years.
Figure 1. Oakland County Births, 1985 – 2013
Oakland County also went against the statewide trend in deaths. While the State experienced a 2.2 percent increase between 2012 and 2013, the county experienced a 5.0 percent decrease. This represented the largest year-to-year decrease since 1990, but an overall 24.1 percent increase over that period.
Figure 2. Oakland County Deaths, 1985 – 2013
The result of increasing births and decreasing deaths is an overall gain in population growth due to natural increase (births minus deaths). As can be seen in Figure 3, Oakland County added over 9,000 persons to its population due to natural increase in 1990. That fell to its lowest point in 2012, when only 3,261 persons were added. This represented a decrease of 65 percent over 22 years time. This year’s increase is a welcome shift in direction. The county will benefit from Millenials coming of age and having babies, but the large contingent of aging baby boomers will bring increasing numbers of deaths in the years to come. The best result that can be expected is an annual natural increase number that will hover around 4,000, never approaching the halcyon days of the early 1990s.
Figure 3. Oakland County Natural Increase, 1985 – 2013
Oakland County’s continued growth will require a strong migration component. This will necessitate the continued attraction of new immigrants (already an important component of the county’s population), coupled with the place-based attractiveness that will draw residents from other parts of the region and country. Recent data show that both factors are gaining strength after last decade’s recession. The next article will review migration trends.
 The data for 2013 is an estimate based upon reports of 2013 births and deaths, including unprocessed reports received as of March 15, and adjusted by projections for additional late reports based upon prior year filings. Final numbers and rates are expected to vary. These provisional estimates were developed to provide an early indication of 2013 events and are believed to be good approximations of the final figures.
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