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 2018 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 percentage of those having at least a high school education of 89.2 percent in 2018, according to the American Community Survey.  The percentage for Tulsa County was higher than for Oklahoma (87.8 percent) and the US as a whole (87.7 percent), and this has been true since 2011.  The graph to the right shows the steady increase in the percentage of those with at least a high school education for all three locations since 2011.  

All of the regions in Tulsa County had relatively high percentages of those having at least a high school diploma.  The South Tulsa region had the highest percentage for educational attainment for 2018 at 93.8 percent, and the North Tulsa region had the lowest percentage of educational attainment at 74.7 percent.  

The zip code with the highest educational attainment was 74114 in the Midtown region, while the zip code with the lowest educational attainment was 74110 in the North Tulsa region. 

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 2018 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 2011 was $47,005. In 2018, the median household income for Tulsa County was $53,902.  Tulsa County has consistently had higher median household income than Oklahoma, but less than the US.  Median household incomes in all three locations trended slightly upward from 2015-2017.

The Jenks/Bixby region had the highest median income in the Tulsa County metro area, at $72,235, while the North Tulsa region had the lowest median income in 2018 at $31,807.  

Median household income ranged from $26,126 in zip code 74106 (North Tulsa region) to $90,089 in zip code 74137 (South Tulsa region).


Unemployment

Definition

This indicator is presented as the percentage of the total civilian labor force (age 16 and older) that was unemployed in 2018, 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 2018 for Tulsa County was 5.5 percent. This was slightly higher than Oklahoma (5.3 percent) but lower than the United States (5.9 percent). The unemployment rate in Tulsa County has been decreasing since 2013. This trend is consistent with trends in Oklahoma and the US.

The North Tulsa region had the highest percentage of unemployed of all of the regions in the Tulsa County metro area, at 11.4 percent.  This is almost double the rates for the US, Oklahoma and Tulsa County.  The East Tulsa region had the second highest percentage of unemployed, at 6.2 percent.  The Jenks/Bixby region had the lowest percentage of unemployed in 2018, with 3.8 percent.  

The zip codes with the highest percentage of unemployed were 74106, 74130, 74126. 74110, 74127 and 74115.  All six of these zip codes are in the North Tulsa Region.

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 2018 American Community Survey. The Census Bureau determines poverty levels using a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. In 2018, the Census Bureau designated that the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four was $25,100.

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 the percentage of people living in poverty for 2018 for Tulsa County was 15.1 percent. This was lower than the percentage for Oklahoma (16 percent) and higher than the percentage for the US (14.1 percent).  The percentages for those living below the poverty level in Tulsa County have consistently stayed between the percentages for Oklahoma (higher percentages) and the US (lower percentages).  These percentages have also been decreasing overall since 2012.

The percentage of people living below the poverty level was the highest in the North Tulsa region of Tulsa County at 34.5 percent.  This was more than double the percentages for Tulsa County, Oklahoma and the US.  The region with the lowest percentage of the population living in poverty in Tulsa County was the Jenks/Bixby region, at 7.4 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 the highest percentage of the population living below the poverty level at 40.9 percent in 2018. 


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 2018 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?

In 2018, Tulsa County had an estimated 12.1 percent of Tulsa County households received SNAP benefits. This percentage was slightly lower than Oklahoma (13.1 percent) and almost identical to the US (12.2 percent).  The percentages of households receiving SNAP benefits appeared to be trending downward for all three locations from 2016 to 2018.

The North Tulsa region had the highest percentage of households receiving SNAP benefits in 2018 at 31.9 percent.  This percentage was almost three times higher than the percentages for Tulsa County, Oklahoma and the US.

The zip codes with the highest percentages of households receiving SNAP benefits were 74106, 74050, 74110, and 74126, 74115, 74130 and 74116 all of which are in the North Tulsa region, except 74103 which is in the Downtown region.

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 2018 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 2018 estimates, 20.9 percent of family households in Tulsa County were headed by a female, higher than for Oklahoma (18.5 percent) and the US (19.1 percent), and this trend was consistent from 2011 to 2018.  The percentage of female-headed households in Tulsa County was on an increasing trend from 2011 to 2014 where it peaked at 21.8 percent, before trending slightly downward til 2016.  From 2016 it has remained relatively stable.  

The North Tulsa region had the highest percentage of female-headed households (40.7 percent) at about the double the percentages for Tulsa County (21.1 percent), Oklahoma (18.5 percent) and the US (19.1 percent).  The region with the lowest percentage of female-headed households was the Owasso/Sperry region at 11.7 percent, well below that of Tulsa County, Oklahoma and the US. 

The zip codes with the highest percentage of female-headed households was 74106, in which over 50 percent of family households were female-headed (51.7 percent), 74126, 74110, 74115 and 74130 all of which are in the North Tulsa region. 

Explore the Data

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