What Are Census Demographics?

Kathy Heydasch

Census demographics are statistics derived from the systematic gathering of information about people, places, occupations, or many other things. For the most part, a census is a count of the population of a certain area. Census demographics help locate and define that population, however, segmenting it into groups and numbers.

Woman posing
Woman posing

There is really no limit to the number of ways that census demographics can be categorized. Population census data can be analyzed by age, gender, ethnicity, education levels, annual income, or a myriad of other categories. Agriculture census data can be segmented into types of farms, number of workers, annual income, etc.

The information derived from census demographics can serve just about any purpose. A store owner may wish to know exactly how many shoppers go into and out of a store every day in order to calculate the average sale per customer. A local government might wish to know how many of its citizens are below poverty level in order to apply for a federal governmental assistance program.

A census differs from a survey, poll or sampling of the population. In the latter cases, only a segment of the population is counted, whereas a census should represent an actual physical count. The number of residents at a home, however, is not the only information that a census might take. Census demographics refer to further categorization within a population group. That population group could be cars, in the case of a traffic census, or it could be farms, in the case of an agriculture census.

The US Census Bureau conducts a population census every ten years as mandated by the US Constitution. The most basic purpose of the census is to gather population data, which determines several things. First, it determines how many legislative seats are allocated to a particular state. Second, it determines how many electoral votes a state receives. Lastly, it helps allocate governmental program budgets.

Every ten years, the US hires census workers to attempt to physically obtain data from each and every household about the number of people living there. According to the US Congress, the census demographics that are allowed to be obtained are race, age, gender and number of people residing at the home. Further census demographics questions are optional.

The word census comes from Latin. In the Roman Republic, the census was a list of all men who were eligible for battle. So from even ancient times, census demographics have played a large role in government and the affairs of the people.

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