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What are population demographics?

The population of a country are those individuals who live in it, known as residents. It also includes residents temporarily outside the country (such as those in the armed forces, diplomats, or astronauts). Each of these people have unique characteristics, such as gender, race, ethnicity, income level, and education level attained. This map explores ethnicity. 

Ethnicity is often used interchangeably with race, but the two are distinct. The word race commonly refers to a person’s physical characteristics, while the word ethnicity describes their cultural identity, which may not be apparent. Both are social constructs people use to classify each other and neither has a biological foundation. All humans are members of the same species, Homo sapiens. Like other animals, humans also have different physical characteristics from other species’ members. 

Sometimes, how a person identifies or is identified is used to discriminate against them. This behavior is always wrong. Learn ways you can disrupt these behaviors when you see them from groups like Hollaback!, The Conscious Kid, Color of Change, or the ACLU. You can also learn more from programs like Code Switch or For Colored Nerds.

The data featured in this map layer is from the United States Census Bureau from data collected in the 2010 Census. All race and ethnicity data is self-reported by the individual completing the survey and those crafting the questions do their best to write them in a way that does not encourage a person to make one selection over another. Beginning in 2000, the Census Bureau began allowing people to select more than one box in these categories creating a more nuanced picture of the U.S. population. This practice was continued in the 2010 and 2020 censuses.

Why collect population demographics?

Governments at all levels use demographic data to create or adjust policies and programs they implement. That same data can also provide those governments, or those monitoring them, with a tool to evaluate those policies and programs to ensure they are serving people equitably or monitor the effectiveness of anti-discrimination policies. Additionally, just like we look at data geographically, when we sort data by factors like gender, ethnicity, race, or disability we can evaluate it to identify issues impacting one group more severely than others.

What are census tracts?

The data in this map layer has been mapped using census tracts instead of counties or states. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, census tracts are “small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county or equivalent entity that are updated by local participants prior to each decennial census.” Census tracts strive to cover the area where 4,000 people live, though they can range from approximately 1,200-8,000 people depending on population density. People living on an American Indian reservation may have census tracts different from those outside those systems. Census tracts in reservations sometimes cross boundaries, such as county lines, that other census tracts are restricted from doing.

What is predominance mapping?

This map layer has been classified using a technique called predominance mapping. This method creates a map that compares multiple variables in the data and then displays the most common or highest value. In this case, we’ve mapped self-selected ethnicity data from the U.S. Census Bureau with this technique. This displays the most commonly reported ethnicity of each census tract. Some tracts are very close between two ethnicities, these have a lighter shade than those with a clear leader.

 

Try the Layer

 

Use this Map Layer in the Classroom

The Politics of Place-Naming: In this activity, students use MapMaker to uncover the geographic and social context of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr.



animal
Noun

organisms that have a well-defined shape and limited growth, can move voluntarily, acquire food and digest it internally, and can respond rapidly to stimuli.

astronaut
Noun

person who takes part in space flights.

attain
Verb

to achieve or accomplish.

Noun

line separating geographical areas.

Noun

program of a nation, state, or other region that counts the population and usually gives its characteristics, such as age and gender.

Census Bureau
Noun

government organization responsible for demographic information about the U.S. population, as well as the analyzing of that data.

country
Noun

geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

Noun

political unit smaller than a state or province, but typically larger than a city, town, or other municipality.

cultural identity
Noun

the way a person views themselves in relation to the learned characteristics and behaviors of a group or community.

data
Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.

decennial
Adjective

taking place every 10 years.

demographic
Adjective

having to do with the social characteristics and statistics of a population.

diplomat
Noun

person who negotiates important political and economic agreements, usually for a government.

distinct
Adjective

unique or identifiable.

equivalent
Adjective

roughly equal or the same as something else.

ethnicity
Noun

identity in a group sharing genetic characteristics, culture, language, religion, or history.

evaluate
Verb

to decide something's worth.

foundation
Noun

basis of something.

gender
Noun

physical, cultural, and social aspects of sexual identity.

geographic techniques
Plural Noun

ways in which geographic processes can be analyzed and represented using different methods and technologies.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

Homo sapiens
Noun

(200,000 years ago-present) species of primates (hominid) that only includes modern human beings.

implement
Verb

to carry out plans.

income
Noun

wages, salary, or amount of money earned.

individual
Adjective

a single thing.

Internet
Noun

vast, worldwide system of linked computers and computer networks.

local
Adjective

having to do with the area around a specific place.

map layer
Noun

part of a map representing specific features of a place.

method
Noun

way of doing something.

monitor
Verb

to observe and record behavior or data.

nuance
Noun

very slight difference in meaning or response.

permanent
Adjective

constant or lasting forever.

physical characteristic
Noun

physical feature of an organism or object.

policy
Noun

set of actions or rules.

population
Noun

total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

Noun

the number of people living in a set area, such as a square mile.

quantity
Noun

amount.

race
Noun

grouping of people most often based on physical similarities.

reservation
Noun

land in the U.S. reserved for the political, cultural, and physical use of Native American tribes and nations.

resident
Noun

person who lives in a specific place.

species
Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

state
Noun

nation or national government.

survey
Noun

a study or analysis of characteristics of an area or a population.

variable
Noun

piece of data that can change.