Demographics

Demographics are data or information about human populations used to study a population. Examples of demographics include age, ethnicity, and median income. Demographic data is helpful in both the private and public sectors as it helps companies and governments decide where their money is allocated. 

Demographics Demographics

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    Demographics Definition

    To understand Demographics, we must first look at the definition of Demography. Through the study of Demography, we can determine Demographics.

    Demography studies human populations concerning their size, structure, and development; it considers the quantitative aspects of their general characteristics. Demographics are data or information about human populations that demography uncovers.

    Demographics Information

    In a broad sense, demographics are data or information about human populations that demography uncovers. Demographics can include many factors like age, race, and the region in which a person resides and works. They also may reflect a person's background and upbringing and can affect how people think, believe, and behave in a given society. Policymaking and legislative decisions made by politicians and their governments often rely on demographic data. Demographics are critical for policymakers to make legislative decisions because demographic data is the primary driver for the allocation of public funds.

    Other measurable demographics include, but are not limited to: births and deaths, income distributions, disease incidences, marriages and divorces, and inward and outward migration.

    At its core, demography aims to utilize data to illustrate the ever-changing structure of human populations within a set parameter, whether a given city, county, state, or country.

    Demographics Segmentation

    Demographic segmentation refers to the categorization or organization of people into segments based on their demographic characteristics. These may include age, gender, income, education, religion, nationality, etc.

    Segmentation allows demographers to obtain precise insights into particular data, especially consumer data. Demography and resulting demographics are highly linked to economics, as the Demographic Transition Model (DTM) explains.

    Demographic Transition Model (DTM)

    Demographics DTM in 5 countries Demographics transition model StudySmarterFig. – 1 DMT in 5 Countries Example.

    The Demographic Transition Model (DTM) consists of arguably the two most critical demographics of any country: birth rate and death rate, along with their historical trends as a country develops economically.

    Each stage is characterized by the relationship between birth rate (annual births per one thousand people) and death rate (yearly deaths per one thousand people).

    As these rates ebb and flow over time, their combined impact affects a country's total population. Typically, within the DTM model, a country will progress over time from one stage to the next as various socioeconomic forces act upon the birth and death rates.

    Demographics in the United States

    Many countries conduct a census every 5 or 10 years to gather critical and relevant demographic data on changing populations1. For example, the census takes place every ten years in the United States.

    The U.S. Census Bureau took one year to process and published the 2020 Census data.2

    Demographics reflect a person's background and upbringing and affect how people think, vote, and believe. We can learn about people and their political beliefs when studying demographics.

    "Despite many challenges, our nation completed a census for the 24th time." 3 U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo about the 2020 Census

    For example, let us take a broad overview of demographics in the United States. According to the 2010 census, approximately 308.7 million people live in the United States. Of those 308.7 million people, 65% identified as non-Hispanic Caucasian, 15.4% Hispanic, 13.5% African-American, 5% Asian, and 1.2% other ethnicities4.

    Rural vs Urban

    In addition to racial and ethnic groupings, another way to categorize someone's demographics is by looking at whether they live in a rural or urban environment.

    In 2010, about 80% of Americans lived in urban areas, whereas 20% lived in rural areas5.

    Regarding politics, this can be a critical demographic difference because the needs of those two groups are vastly different. Residents of urban areas may advocate that the government pay for better public transportation like bus routes and subways. In contrast, those living in rural areas may desire better-paved roads in general or perhaps agriculture subsidies, for example.

    In general, the U.S. government tends to respond more to the wants and needs of those living in urban areas as they make up a much more significant percentage of the U.S. population.

    Geographic Regions of the U.S.

    Percent Change in County Population: 2010 to 2020 by the US Census Bureau Geographic Regions of the US StudySmarterFig. 2 – Percent Change in County Population.

    In addition to urban and rural, there is another way to divide the United States based on location. The United States can be divided into four central geographical regions: Northeast, South, Midwest, and West.

    Currently, the South and West are the fastest growing regions by population. This region is coined "the Sun Belt" 6 due to its warm temperatures. In contrast, the Northeast and Midwest regions have grown much more slowly and are sometimes referred to as "the Rust Belt" because they are home to older industrial cities which played essential roles in founding the U.S. The location of a given state can dictate its residents' concerns.

    The most recent U.S. Census Bureau took one year to process and publish the 2020 Census data.

    For example, residents of California may be concerned about utility-related issues like water and energy. In contrast, residents of Pennsylvania or Ohio may be more concerned about protecting jobs in the coal, automobile, and steel industries.

    Due to the large population in the Sun Belt, the concerns of residents of states in those areas tend to draw more attention from the federal government.

    Age and Income

    Another demographic that can be useful to study is age. Age often plays a significant role in an individual's political beliefs. In 2010 there were over 40 million baby boomers in the United States7.

    Baby boomers are Americans born between the end of World War II in 1945 and 19648.

    The federal government will need to spend more money on Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that meet the needs of the elderly population, which puts a significant financial strain on the younger population.

    In the U.S., as with many countries, especially in the West, the younger population identifies as more politically liberal, while older folks identify as more politically conservative.

    Income is another demographic that affects U.S. government policy. In 2010, the median income in the United States was $49,4459. In other words, 50% of the population made over $50,000, and 50% earned less than $50,000. This median decreased from the median income before the economic recession in 2008.

    2008 Recession

    The U.S. faced a recession between 2007 and 2009 because the US housing market bubble burst. In 2008, the US GDP declined by 0.3%, and 2.8% in 2009. Unemployment rose to 10%10.

    This downturn caused a financial crisis worldwide, especially in emerging markets such as Brazil, Mexico, and Greece. It also caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers, one of the biggest investment banks in the United States.

    The origin of the crisis was a booming real estate market, stimulated by the Federal Reserve's low-interest rates and the expansion of overall mortgage debt. The context allowed hundreds of thousands of people to obtain house loans for what they would not have qualified otherwise, as the market expected that home prices would continue rising indefinitely.

    The crisis officially ended in July 2009. At that moment, the U.S. housing market had lost around $19 trillion in net worth11.

    When people's incomes decrease, so does the amount they pay in taxes, meaning the government eventually possesses less capital. However, if people have less money, they often require more government assistance, but the government has less money to provide for its residents due to fewer taxes.

    Demographics Wrap-Up

    Demographics help demographers, lawmakers, and the greater public understand the diverse needs of different groups of people so that ultimately, governments, institutions, businesses, and other organizations can allocate resources and help sustain a functioning society.

    In a broad view of these demographics, we can see that the United States has an incredibly diverse population.

    Its diverse backgrounds require diverse needs. Compared to other countries with lower rates of immigration and ethnocultural diversity, the U.S. can provide unique demographic data, which may help pinpoint society's specific needs.

    Demographics - Key takeaways

    • Demography studies the size, structure, and development of human populations; it considers the quantitative aspects of their general characteristics.
    • Demographics are data or information about human populations that demography uncovers.
    • Demographic segmentation refers to the categorization or organization of people into segments based on their demographic characteristics. These may include age, gender, income, education, religion, nationality, etc.
    • The Demographic Transition Model (DTM) consists of arguably the two most critical demographics of any country: birth rate and death rate and their historical trends as a country develops economically; that country's total population growth rate cycles through distinct stages.
    • According to the 2010 census, approximately 308.7 million people live in the United States. Of those 308.7 million people, 65% identified as non-Hispanic Caucasian, 15.4% Hispanic, 13.5% African-American, 5% Asian, and 1.2% other ethnicities.

    References

    1. census | Facts, Definition, Methods, & History | Britannica
    2. 2020 Census Results
    3. 2020 Census Apportionment Results Delivered to the President
    4. Decennial Census Official Publications
    5. U.S. Cities Factsheet | Center for Sustainable Systems
    6. Baby Boomers Approach 65 – Glumly | Pew Research Center
    7. Baby Boomer Definition: Years & Date Range
    8. The Great Recession Definition
    9. Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 - Income & Wealth - Newsroom - U.S. Census Bureau
    10. The Great Recession Definition
    11. The Great Recession Definition
    12. Fig. 1 – Demographic-Transition-5-countries (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Demographic-Transition-5-countries.png) by Max Roser (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Demographic-Transition-5-countries.png) licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
    13. Fig. 2 – Percent Change in County Population- 2010 to 2020 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Percent_Change_in_County_Population-_2010_to_2020_%28cropped%29.png) by United States Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/visualizations/2021/dec/percent-change-by-county.pdf) licensed by PD-USGov (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:PD_US_Government).
    Frequently Asked Questions about Demographics

    What are demographics? 

    Demographics is the study of human populations and their structure, size, and development.

    What are the groups of demographics? 

    Demographics can be grouped into different categories like age, gender, income, education, religion, nationality, etc.

    What is demographic data? 

    Demographic data is the quantifiable form of demographic information and is used to make policy and legislative decisions.

    What are examples of demographics? 

    Some examples of demographics include a person's age, gender, education, nationality, race, and ethnicity.

    What are 5 demographics? 

    Commonly studied demographics include a person's geographical location, age, income, education, and political affiliation.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    How many people live in the US according to the 2010 Census?

    Which percentage of Americans live in cities?

    How often does a country usually do a Census?

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