Demographics Software & Service
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2012 Estimates / 2017 Projections
Demographics or demographic data are the characteristics of a human population. These types of data are used widely in sociology, public policy, and marketing. Commonly used demographics include gender, race, age, income, disabilities, mobility (in terms of travel time to work or number of vehicles available), educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Demographic trends describe the changes in demographics in a population over time (for example, the average age of a population may increase or decrease over time). Both distributions and trends of values within a demographic variable are of interest.
Demographic profiles in marketing
Marketers typically combine several variables to define a demographic profile. A demographic profile (often shortened to "a demographic") provides enough information about the typical member of this group to create a mental picture of this hypothetical aggregate. For example, a marketer might speak of the single, female, middle-class, age 18 to 24, college educated demographic.
Marketing researchers typically have two objectives in this regard: first to determine what segments or subgroups exist in the overall population; and secondly to create a clear and complete picture of the characteristics of a typical member of each of these segments. Once these profiles are constructed, they can be used to develop a marketing strategy and marketing plan. The five types of demographics in marketing are age, gender, income level, race and ethnicity.
A generational cohort has been defined as "the group of individuals (within some population definition) who experience the same event within the same time interval". The notion of a group of people bound together by the sharing of the experience of common historical events developed in the early 1920s. Today the concept has found its way into popular culture through well known phrases like "baby boomer" and "Generation X".
The United Kingdom has a series of four national birth cohort studies, the first three spaced apart by 12 years: the 1946 National Survey of Health and Development, the 1958 National Child Development Study, the 1970 British Cohort Study, and the Millennium Cohort Study, begun much more recently in 2000. These have followed the lives of samples of people (typically beginning with around 17,000 in each study) for many years, and are still continuing. As the samples have been drawn in a nationally representative way, inferences can be drawn from these studies about the differences between four distinct generations of British people in terms of their health, education, attitudes, childbearing and employment patterns. The last three are run by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Cohorts in the United States
A study by William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their books Generations and Fourth Turning, looked at generational similarities and differences going back to the 15th century and concluded that over 80 year spans, generations proceed through 4 stages of about 20 years each. The first phase consists of times of relative crisis and the people born during this period were called "artists". The next phase was a "high" period and those born in this period were called "prophets". The next phase was an "awakening period" and people born in this period were called "nomads". The final stage was the "unraveling period" and people born in this period were called "heroes". The most recent "high period" occurred in the 50s and 60s (hence baby boomers are the most recent crop of "prophets").
The most definitive recent study of the US generational cohorts was done by Schuman and Scott (1989) in 1985 in which a broad sample of adults of all ages were asked, "What world events are especially important to you?" They found that 33 events were mentioned with great frequency. When the ages of the respondents were correlated with the expressed importance rankings, seven distinct cohorts became evident. Today the following descriptors are frequently used for these cohorts:
U.S. Demographic birth cohorts
Subdivided groups are present when peak boom years or inverted peak bust years are present, and may be represented by a normal or inverted bell-shaped curve (rather than a straight curve). The boom subdivided cohorts may be considered as "pre-peak" (including peak year) and "post-peak". The year 1957 was the baby boom peak with 4.3 million births and 122.7 fertility rate. Although post-peak births (such as trailing edge boomers) are in decline, and sometimes referred to as a "bust", there are still a relative large number of births. The dearth-in-birth bust cohorts include those up to the valley birth year, and those including and beyond, leading up to the subsequent normal birth rate.
From the decline in birth rates starting in 1958 and the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960, the Baby Boomer normal distribution curve is negatively skewed. The trend in birth rates from 1958 to 1961 show a tendency to end late in the decade at approximately 1969, thus returning to pre-WWII levels, with 12 years of rising and 12 years of declining birth rates. Pre-war birth rates were defined as anywhere between 1939 and 1941 by demographers such as the Taeuber's, Philip M. Hauser and William Fielding Ogburn.  From 1962 to 1964, trend analysis points to 1965 as being the first year to return to baseline birth rates, possibly referring to this cohort as "Generation X".
Criticisms and qualifications of demographic profiling
Demographic profiling is essentially an exercise in making generalizations about groups of people. As with all such generalizations many individuals within these groups will not conform to the profile - demographic information is aggregate and probabilistic information about groups, not about specific individuals. Critics of demographic profiling argue that such broad-brush generalizations can only offer such limited insight and that their practical usefulness is debatable. However, if the conclusions drawn are statistically valid and reproducible, these criticisms are not as well founded.
Most demographic information is also culturally based. The generational cohort information above, for example, applies primarily to North America (and to a lesser extent to Western Europe) and it may be unfruitful to generalize conclusions more widely as different nations face different situations and potential challenges.
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