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What Are City Demographics?

Article Details
  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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City demographics refer to the unique characteristics of a city’s collective populace. They are typically derived from census information and may be presented in statistical and graphical form with accompanying written reports. Various types of city demographics exist, such as age demographics, ethnic demographics, and income demographics. Information obtained from city demographics is used by research centers, policy makers, and many other organizations.

Two of the main ways to segment a city’s population are through age demographics and gender demographics. The first group of statistics divides individuals into age brackets, often in increments of ten. For example, all individuals aged 20-29 would be documented as one group, followed by individuals aged 30-39, and so forth. Such information could prove useful for endeavors like evaluating a city’s health and for targeting certain types of businesses or organizations like colleges toward a city. Gender distinctions, on the other hand, will typically note the respective percentages of males and females in a city's population.

Any population demographics also typically include ethnicity or race statistics. Cataloging a city’s ethnic makeup helps governments track larger cultural trends. Classifications would vary depending on region. Some common distinctions for American cities include Caucasian, African-American, and Asian. Cities with a diverse ethnic population could also serve as models for future areas of cultural assimilation.

Another area of interest for city demographics experts is household income levels. A typical survey may ask individuals in a household to state their combined yearly employment income. This information can then be used for informational purposes and also to gain a general idea of the overall employment outlook and standard of living for a given city. A related demographic might measure citizens’ levels of educational achievement.

Other types of demographics like marketing demographics and business demographics can be derived from city demographics. Businesses and organizations are particularly interested in the statistics for large metropolitan areas. City statistics help these entities understand potential consumers and thus create target demographics. The numbers and graphs also help businesses find new avenues for expansion.

While factors like age, ethnicity, and income are common demographical classifications, other shared characteristics of a population may be measured as well. Often, these groupings are compiled for historical or advertising purposes. Examples vary by region, and they can include generational classifications, married or single, homeowners or renters, and many more.

City demographics and demographics instruments as a whole have been criticized because of their uncertain validity and their proposed intentions. Many question the accuracy of the information, since not all individuals respond to inquiries and not all regions are equipped to conduct inquiries in an efficient and effective manner. Other critics believe that demographic information unfairly categorizes individuals into rigid groups and thus leads to general assumptions about these groups that may be biased or stereotypical. Therefore, demographics may not consider individual differences.

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