Hillsdale, Michigan. Three years ago or so when the missus and I moved to Michigan from Philadelphia, we wondered how we would manage. Not only is the state’s economy at a crawl, but to go from a big east coast city to a small rural town seemed to be almost dramatic. Hillsdale has no Macaroni Grill, Starbucks, or Restoration Hardware. Not to say that we consumed at these places back in Philadelphia (though the closest Trader Joes’ is seventy miles away). But relocating to a depressed agricultural town in an already depressed rust-belt state seemed to confirm the line I heard once at a church in Santee, California — “I can’t afford to live in the United States so I live in Tijuanna.” Was the same true for us in Hillsdale.

Now it turns out, thanks to this handy map from the New York Times (so it must be true), we made an upgrade. Here are some comparisons between Philadelphia and Hillsdale County:

Rank 2,420 (out of 3,135) 2,183
Average Income $37,000 $42,000
College education 23% (of population) 14%
Unemployment 10.8% 9.5%
Life expectancy 75 77.6
Obesity 38% 40%

Rank 2,183 (out of 3,135)
Average Income $42,000
College education 14%
Unemployment 9.5%
Life expectancy 77.6
Obesity 40%

Don’t ever bet against Michigan.

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Darryl Hart
D. G. Hart is a visiting professor of history at Hillsdale College. After completing his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, he taught at Wheaton College and Westminster Seminary before directing academic programs at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. He is the author of several books, including A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State (Ivan R. Dee); The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies and American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press); and From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelical Protestants and American Conservatism (Eerdmans).


  1. But come a little more west and you’ll find transformation (but keep in mind the exchange rate on the 2k peso continues to plummet):

    Rank 711 (out of 3,135)
    Average Income $51,000
    College education 30.9%
    Unemployment 6.5%
    Life expectancy 79.6
    Obesity 37%

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