05 - Demographic Data

05 - Demographic Data - SOCI 121: Population Problems...

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D EMOGRAPHIC D ATA Objectives: 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 Class Notes: 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 come from? 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. o 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 population census . The major source of information on the population processes of births and deaths is the registration of vital statistics , although in a few countries this task is accomplished by population registers . These sources are often supplemented with data from sample surveys as well as historical sources . Administrative data 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. o Nearly 90 percent of the world’s population has been enumerated in national censuses in the last decade. o 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. o By the latter part of the 19 th 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. 1
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05 - Demographic Data - SOCI 121: Population Problems...

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