Socioeconomic Status

If you are born into poverty, the chances are good that your children will be born into poverty. Find a way to give poor kids the same cognitive stimulus that rich kids receive, and they should end up with the same tools for success.

—George Kaiser, George Kaiser Family Foundation

The term 'social determinants of health' is often used to highlight the idea that health is influenced by the conditions in which we live—health is determined by access to social and economic opportunities, resources and supports available in homes and communities, educational opportunities, workplace safety, air, water and food quality, and our social interactions and relationships (1). 

While these issues are complex, socioeconomic status (income, educational attainment, financial security, social status, etc.) can impact quality of life and opportunities. Living in poverty, for example, is often accompanied by a variety of chronic and acute stressors that impact physical and mental health outcomes. Low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood leads to a variety of issues that result in poor income and health in adulthood (2). 

By addressing the conditions in which residents live, learn, work, and play, we aim to create sustainable change that leads to a healthier population, society, and workforce (1).

This chapter highlights many of the disparities between geographic location and race/ethnicity that exist in Tulsa County, such as educational attainment, poverty status, and income.

Education

Educational Attainment

Definition

Educational attainment is defined as completion of at least a high school education by the population age 25 and older. It is presented as a percentage of the total population 25 and older, based on 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.


Why is this indicator important?

Education is a basic component of socioeconomic status, because it shapes future occupational opportunities and achievement. Children from low SES households and communities tend to develop academic skills more slowly and have increased dropout rates, which can perpetuate low SES in the community (2).
 

How are we doing?

Tulsa County was estimated to have an overall educational attainment of 88.8 percent in 2016, according to the American Community Survey. This was highest in whites (90.8 percent), followed by blacks (88.6 percent). About 56 percent of Hispanics had a high school education or higher. With regard to gender, females had a higher educational attainment (89.7 percent) as compared to males (87.9 percent).

In 2016, educational attainment for Tulsa County was 88.8 percent, which was higher than both Oklahoma (87.3 percent) and the U.S. (87 percent). This trend has been consistent since 2011.

The zip codes with the highest educational attainment were concentrated in the midtown area, south Tulsa, and the south suburbs. 

Income and Employment


Median Household Income

Definition

The median household income is the mid-point in the range of reported household incomes. Half of households reported incomes above the median income and half of households reported incomes below the median income. Per capita income is the average income of each individual. These measures are both based on 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.


Why is this indicator important?

Income is a common measure of socioeconomic status. Current income provides a direct measure of the quality of food, housing, leisure-time amenities, and health care an individual is able to acquire, as well as reflecting their relative position in society (3).


How are we doing?

The estimated median household income for Tulsa County in 2013 was $50,564. There was clear racial inequality among median household incomes, with white and Asian households having a median income of greater than $50,000, while black households had a median income of less than $30,000. In fact, the median household income for white households was almost twice that of black households. Hispanic households had a median income of $39,377.

In 2016, Tulsa County had a higher median household income compared to Oklahoma ($50,564 compared to $48,038). It was lower than the United States overall ($55,322). This trend has been consistent since 2011. 

Another measure of economic health, per capita income, showed that Tulsa County had a higher per capita income than Oklahoma and the United States in 2016 ($29,970, $25,628, and $29,828, respectively).

Median household income ranged from $23,648 in zip code 74106 (north Tulsa) to $85,752 in zip code 74137 (south Tulsa).


Unemployment

Definition

This indicator is presented as the percentage of the total civilian labor force (age 16 and older) that was unemployed in 2016, based on American Community Survey 5-year estimates. It is important to note that Bureau of Labor Statistics data for this indicator is often reported in the media, etc. and it is calculated slightly differently.


Why is this indicator important?

Health insurance is a major determinant of access to both preventive and acute health care. Most Americans rely on employer-provided insurance. Thus, unemployment affects their access to health services, due to both loss of employer-sponsored health insurance and reduced income. Unemployed adults have poorer mental and physical health than employed adults; this pattern is also found for insured and uninsured adults. Unemployed adults are less likely to receive needed medical care and prescription drugs due to cost than the employed in each insurance category (4).


How are we doing?

The overall unemployment rate in 2016 for Tulsa County was 6.2 percent. This was slightly higher than Oklahoma (6.0 percent) but lower than the United States (7.4 percent). The unemployment rate in Tulsa County has been decreasing since 2013. This trend is consistent with trends in Oklahoma and the US.

With regard to race, Native Hawaiians/ Pacific Islanders and blacks in Tulsa County had an unemployment rate that was more than two times that of whites (14.1 and 12.1 percent compared to 4.9 percent). The unemployment rate of Hispanics was 6.2 percent.

The zip codes with the highest rates of unemployment were 74103, 74106, and 74126. These zip codes are in downtown and north Tulsa.

Poverty


Population Below Poverty

Definition

This indicator is the percentage of persons living below the federal poverty level in the past 12 months and is taken from the 2016 American Community Survey. The Census Bureau determines poverty levels using a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. In 2016, the Census Bureau designated that the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four was $24,563.


Why is this indicator important?

Health outcomes are worse for individuals with low incomes than for their more affluent counterparts. Lower-income individuals experience higher rates of chronic illness, disease, and disabilities, and also die younger than those who have higher incomes. Individuals living in poverty are more likely than their affluent counterparts to experience fair or poor health, or suffer from conditions that limit their everyday activities. They also report higher rates of chronic conditions such as hypertension, high blood pressure, and elevated serum cholesterol, which can be predictors of more acute conditions in the future (5).


How are we doing?

Estimates for 2016 stated that the poverty rate for Tulsa County was 15.9 percent. Racial disparity among those living in poverty was evident in Tulsa County. The 2016 American Community Survey showed that more than 30 percent of the black and 'other races' population lived below the poverty line, which was almost three times as great as the percentage of the white population (11.7 percent). About twenty-eight percent of the Hispanic population lived below the poverty level.

With regard to age, the proportion of the population in poverty decreased as age increased. A total of 24.1 percent of Tulsa County residents under the age of 18 lived below the poverty level.

In 2016, the estimated poverty rate in Tulsa County (15.9 percent) was lower than Oklahoma (16.5 percent) but above the national rate (15.1 percent).

The zip codes with the highest percentages of residents living in poverty were primarily concentrated in north and downtown Tulsa. Zip code 74050 in west Tulsa, which is very small and difficult to see on the map below, had a poverty rate of over 50 percent in 2016. 


Households Receiving SNAP Benefits

Definition

This indicator is the percentage of households receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits (commonly referred to as 'SNAP' or 'food stamps') as a percentage of total households, from the 2016 American Community Survey. 


Why is this indicator important?

Food insecurity is the most commonly used measure of food deprivation in the United States. When families report that they struggle to secure an adequate diet, members of that family are considered “food insecure.” This could mean that the children in that family do not eat for a day or two, or it could mean that the parents forego meals in order to feed their children. Children living in food-insecure households can also be obese. This is not necessarily surprising, given that one way to financially cope with food insecurity is to consume relatively less expensive, highly processed, high-calorie foods, instead of more expensive fresh produce (6). 


How are we doing?

Estimates for 2016 stated that 12.9 percent of Tulsa County households received SNAP benefits. Almost one-third of black households reported receiving SNAP benefits, which was 3.5 times higher than white households. About 17 percent of the Hispanic households received SNAP benefits in 2016. It is important to note that undocumented residents may be eligible for SNAP benefits based on specific criteria (e.g., children under 18), but this may not cover all income qualified undocumented residents.

In 2016, Tulsa County had a lower percentage of households receiving SNAP benefits compared to Oklahoma (13.7 percent) and the US (13 percent).

The zip codes with the highest percentages of households receiving SNAP benefits were 74106, 74110, and 74126, which are in north Tulsa.

Female-headed Households

Definition

This indicator is defined as a family household headed by a female, with no husband present. It is presented as a percentage of all family households, based on 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.


Why is this indicator important?

Households headed by single women are more likely to be poor, which impacts the physical, mental, and educational outcomes of the children raised in these homes. Parents with limited economic resources face many obstacles to healthy living and opportunities for learning. The effects of living in a single-parent household go beyond the children; the mothers are also affected. Single mothers report higher levels of psychological distress, lower levels of perceived social support, and poorer eating habits, all of which can affect their ability to parent (7).


How are we doing?

According to the 2016 estimates, 21.2 percent of family households in Tulsa County were headed by a female. Almost half of black family households in Tulsa County were headed by a female, compared to 7 percent of Asian family households. 

This was higher than both Oklahoma and the United States (18.6 and 19.5 percent, respectively). Tulsa County has consistently had a higher percentage of female-headed households compared to Oklahoma and the US since 2011.

The zip codes with the highest percentage of female-headed households was 74106, in which over 50 percent of family households were female-headed. 

Economic Hardship Index

A strong correlation exists between socioeconomic factors and life expectancy. By analyzing the socioeconomic trends of a community, associations between health and economic indicators can be observed. Tulsa Health Department completed an Economic Hardship Index (EHI) analysis, based on a similar study conducted by the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department in 2010. The EHI is made of up a ratio of several socioeconomic measures: crowded housing, population living below poverty, unemployment, low educational attainment, dependency, and per capita income (8). A higher EHI represents less favorable socioeconomic outcomes. Zip codes with higher EHI scores were concentrated in north and east Tulsa. 

For more information on the EHI methodology, please click here.

This ratio was then compared to the life expectancy of a zip code. When a large group of zip codes’ EHI is graphed against the life expectancy, a significant trend emerges: As EHI increases, life expectancy decreases.

Explore the Data

The charts below allow you to filter the data based on your own needs. There are three sets of charts: zip code, race/ethnicity, and location. 

Within the zip code set, there are three options: percent, median household income, and Economic Hardship Index. There are two options for each of these: zip code maps for a single indicator and a single time period, or zip code trends for a single indicator for multiple time periods. 

Race/ethnicity only has two options: percent or median household income by race/ethnicity. Location only has one option (percent by location). These data are presented from 2011 - present based on American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

The 'median household income' chart allows you to filter over time for median household income. The 'Economic Hardship Index' chart allows you to filter over time for Economic Hardship Index.  The 'percent' charts allow you to filter over time for all other indicators: unemployment, educational attainment, population below poverty, households receiving SNAP benefits, and female-headed households.

Clicking on the blue text within the chart will allow you to choose which indicators and/or zip codes/races/ethnicities/locations you would like to see represented in the chart. Please note that if you choose multiple options, the chart will show you a cumulative total of all populations or percentages selected. It will not show you each indicator separately. Additionally, zip codes must be entered as text.

When selecting years, the three year rolling totals (e.g., '2011-2013' or '2014-2016') should only be selected with creating charts with Economic Hardship Index (only available for zip codes). All other indicators should only use the single year options from 2011-2016.

If data is not available due to limitations from the American Community Survey, it will result in a message that says "No data is available for this section."

If you would like to download the data, please click here.


By Zip Code

The first two charts allows you to compare the percent indicators (identified above) over time for Tulsa County zip codes. If you chose multiple indicators or years (map only), you will see a cumulative percent- you will not see each separately. Clicking on the zip code below the chart will remove it from the chart.

The next two charts allows you to compare median household income over time for Tulsa County zip codes. If you chose multiple years (map only), you will see a cumulative total- you will not see each year separately. Clicking on the zip code below the chart will remove it from the chart.

The next two charts allows you to compare Economic Hardship Index over time for Tulsa County zip codes. If you chose multiple years (map only), you will see a cumulative total- you will not see each year separately. Clicking on the zip code below the chart will remove it from the chart.


By Race/Ethnicity

The charts below allows you to compare races/ethnicities over time for a specific indicator (percent indicators or median household income) in a specific location (Tulsa County, Oklahoma, or the United States). If you choose multiple indicators or locations, you will see a cumulative percent- you will not see each separately. Clicking on the race/ethnicity below the chart will remove it from the chart.


By Location

The chart below allows you to compare multiple indicators over time for a specific location (Tulsa County, Oklahoma, or the United States). If you choose more than one location, you will see a cumulative percent- you will not see each location separately.