List the most common sources of demographic data and provide an example of each
Discuss issues of data quality surrounding censuses, including differential undercounts
Consider reasons for undercounts and explain the political significance of the U.S. Census
Be prepared to analyze different sources of demographic data and assess their quality
What are the Sources of Demographic Data?
Demographers use a variety of rates, ratios, and other measures to study population. But
these measures are only reliable and valid if based on accurate data. Where do these data
In order to analyze the demography of a particular society, we need to know how many
people live there, how they are distributed geographically, how many are born there, how
many die, how many move in, and how many move out.
We also want to know about the social, psychological, economic, and even physical
characteristics of people being studied. We need to know these things for the past, as
well as the present.
The primary source of data on population size and distribution, as well as on demographic
structure and characteristics, is the
The major source of information on the population processes of births and deaths is the
, although in a few countries this task is accomplished by
These sources are often supplemented with data from
as well as
provide much of the information about population changes at
the local level and about geographic mobility and migration.
What is a Population Census?
A census of population is a complete enumeration of an entire population. It is usually
conducted by governments for social, political, economic, or military purposes. In practice,
this does not mean that every person actually is seen and interviewed by a census taker. In
most countries it means that one adult in a household answers questions about all the people
living in that household.
Nearly 90 percent of the world’s population has been enumerated in national censuses
in the last decade.
The population census has a long history. The ancient civilizations of Egypt,
Babylonia, China, India, and Rome all conducted censuses of one sort or another. The
earliest censuses were often not concerned with counting people but with determining
the value of land in a kingdom, or the number of potential soldiers.
By the latter part of the 19
century, the population census came to be viewed as a
tool for finding out more than just how many people there were and where they lived.