Factors of Demographic Data Collection
It is important to know if a species is heading to the extinction of how much of it is being reproduced. And this is why the economics of the population problem has become a major subject of study today. Demographics is a subject in economics that helps us to understand the size, status, and behavior of populations. When a government wants to develop new policies for economic development or allocation of public resources, it uses data from factors like sex, level of education, homeownership, and physical locations to make more informed decisions. This is demographics, and it's useful in a wide range of applications.
The problem of overpopulation does not only touch the human species but other living things as well. A population is a group of individuals of one species living and interbreeding within a specified ecosystem. Members of this group depend on the same resources, and they are subjected to similar environmental constraints. They also rely on the availability of persistent other members over time. Economic data is collected from populations to make different decisions. This information is collected through the examination of individuals within a population who interact with each other symbiotically. They also look at how the said population exists with the general environment. Population ecologists look at demographics as a tool for objectively studying populations. Scientific measures called demographic parameters are used to explain these populations, as stated by Lebreton et al. 1992. Demography is a field of science involved in the collection and analysis of these numbers.
Understanding the population begins with understanding demographics. In this case, we can define demography as the study of the features of the population. As a result, demographics offer a mathematical representation of these features and how they change with time. Demographics can also use statistical factors that affect the growth and/or decline of population. There are so many factors involved in this case, but only a few of them like population size, density, age structure, birth and death rates, and sex ratio are the most important. When firms are making investment decisions, they use these factors to search for and use the most useful information. Even where other parameters are not applicable, you will realize that these parameters are always available. Consider, for instance, a firm asking new customers to subscribe to their newsletters using emails, among the questions asked is always age and sex.
In economics, the population is crucial to understanding how to share and use public and natural resources. In one of our previous lessons, we looked at scarcity as a crucial factor that impacted firms' and individuals' decision-making. People are always making a decision, which is founded on the resources available. If one thinks that going for a vacation is better than buying a new car, they will make this decision based on their financial standing. It is these resources that tell one when to save and when to invest. When an economy is on a downward growth trend, households will spend less and save more. On the other hand, upward growth in an economy leads to more spending and less saving. This behavior is mostly determined by such households' income, which is another crucial factor in resolving the population problem.
Economic studies rely on data and lots of data. Economists and policymakers understand that there is nothing much one can do if they don't have the right information. Hence, they will apply available resources to collect, store, and use population data. As stated above, the population is the main parameter for determining economic growth. This is because firms and markets need people to work in their industries through labor supply while they demand. If there are not enough people from a population, it becomes hard for a company to employ a competitive workforce, leading to its failure. And even though technological advancement has changed the labor market, it is still people are run the machine, making it important to invest in human capital.
In a nutshell, demographics are one feature of economic development that should never be ignored. We all understand the effects of overpopulation, even before the importance of having a controlled population within an economy. The limited volume of natural resources only leads to a scramble for the resources, which creates high demands and increased prices. Demographic data can be used by both firms and governments to make proper decisions to apply and share these resources. To better understand the significance of demographic data, we need to know the different parameters commonly used by economists.
The size of a population
The number of individuals with a population is the most important parameter of demographic data. You may have seen or got involved in a census exercise. This exercise seeks to understand the number of people within and ethnic group, a community, race, their children, men, women, and their economic activities. The information is then applied in the proper allocation of public resources in a present subjectively distinct geographic location. This concept may seem simple. However, locating an individual during the national counting exercise is quite hard. And this is why sometimes experts estimate the figures in a small area of sampling or by extrapolation on a larger population. No matter the challenges in collecting this data, it is important for this population's characteristics to be captured. The dynamics of the whole population is not something that can be taken lightly.
In most cases, the specified population's economic activities and orientation are determined by how many individuals are make up the location and their general environment. During a census, capturing a small population is extremely important. This is a group that may be facing potential extinction, as stated by Caughley, 1994. Members of such a population may not easily find quality mates, which means fewer individuals mate, while the rest risk interbreeding. Apart from this, small populations face a higher risk of random deaths through natural events like floods and diseases or manmade issues like wars. Some of them are even chased from the homes and scattered in different regions by other larger communities.
Larger populations are not left behind in the share of problems. Populations that are near the maximum sustainable size (the carrying capacity) show characteristic behavior. For instance, there is more competition for resources, which, as stated above, become limited, the more they are used. There are also shifts in predator-prey relations, as well as reduced fecundity. When a population begins to exceed its carrying capacity, it starts to experience what is known as the environmental degradation of the natural habitat available. The division of public resources depends a lot on the population's size. Areas with more people are allocated more resources, whereas those with fewer people are allocated fewer resources.
Also, economic activities in densely populated areas are more pronounced than those with fewer people. This is why when a company wants to introduce a new product in the market; they consider how many people are in their target area. They don't just do it because they must, but also because it determines market growth. Factors like migration are mostly used in understanding population problems. Some governments have tried starting projects in rural areas to try and localize individuals. Population is one issue that will always affect economic growth, and knowing how many people live within a specified region leads to better decision making.
Many people have confused population density with population size. And while these terms are used interchangeably, there is a huge difference. Population density is included in a more comprehensive definition of the population size. Density concerns the amount of space a population holds. In other words, it not about how many people are in an area, but how much area a certain number of people occupy. And hence, density is mostly expressed as the number of people per unit area – it is the volume of an individual. For instance, what is the number of crows per square kilometer (Andren 1992)? Just like any other on population property, density is quite dynamic, which means it changes over time as the population increases or decreases. Closely related individuals will maintain a very different density.
In an urban area, population density is a major determinant of overpopulation. Certain areas have more companies, and hence, more people than others. This also determines the levels of employment and unemployment. Note that the labor market competition is higher where more people live than where few people are, although it depends on how many firms are in the region. A higher population density creates a bigger risk of exhaustion of natural resources, which can be catastrophic to the environment. Economists and policymakers use this data to create guidelines and policies that balance the human-environment relationship. Density-dependent factors like competition, migration, and scarcity increase with an increase in population density. On the other hand, density-independent factors like weather, fires, and flooding are constant, regardless of the population density. But it's the density-dependent factors that are most worrying.
Each individual plays a role within a population. However, not everyone plays and an equal role. Researchers sometimes find it important to categorize the different contributions each individual plays. One of the categories includes age-specific parameters known as cohorts. For instance, when taking a census, people are categorized as juveniles and sub-adults. They then create a profile based on these groups' size and age-structured to determine how likely and fast this population is likely to reproduce. This data is used to predict future growth. When a population is likely to expand rapidly, they are characterized by larger cohorts, while stable populations have evenly distributed age classes. Declining populations have a larger number of older cohorts, as stated by Lebreton et al. 1992.
Such data can be used in determining target markets for specific products. If, for instance, a company is selling life insurance policies, they consider the ages of individuals in a specific region. The older they are, the more premiums they are likely to pay. Apart from this, governments use demographic data to distribute natural resources. In the labor market, competition is eminent among the old experienced workers and the younger, energetic employees. Most companies employ based on their long-term and short-term goals, which is another serious parameter for making investment decisions. Also, each age group is characterized by varying consumption needs.
When we consider age structure, we find that some individuals have more impact on the population than others. Fecundity is used when describing the number of offspring, and individuals or a population is likely to give within a specified period. Demographic studies calculate fecundity in terms of birth rates based on age. For instance, it can be expressed as the birth of female individuals per unit time or the number of births per given number of individuals. Attaining maximum fecundity in the ecosystem is only theoretical. However, every location uses different measures to control its population, which is another important approach to the population problem.
Mortality and Birth rates
The rate of mortality and birth are two other crucial parameters that affect a population. Mortality measures individual deaths in a population, serving as a counterbalance to the issue of fecundity. Fecundity is simply another term used to describe birth rates. If the number of deaths is higher than the number of births within a population, it negatively affects the natural growth of that population. Instead of overpopulation, we have underpopulation, which can lead to extinction. Economists need to understand that figures as it helps them tell which economies are at the risk of collapse. The data from research concerning mortality and birth rates can help policymakers develop measures to save the population.
Population problems are not a new thing in economic studies. The interaction between living things and the environment is studied for the benefit of natural environment conservation. And since economic development is dependent on these factors, it's crucial for demographic data, which is vital for statistical analysis of economies to be examined.
Author: James Hamilton