Interactive: How Do Americans Differ by Age?
The human experience changes dramatically over the course of a lifetime.
While we each intrinsically know that our days as teenagers will be vastly different from those as senior citizens, it is interesting to see how this looks from a 10,000-foot perspective.
Using demographic data on the American populace, we can spot key differences between age groups, including some aspects that make each generation of Americans unique.
The U.S. Population, by Age
Today’s interactive data visualization comes to us from Overflow Data, and it charts out the entire U.S. population by age group.
The graphic allows you to sort demographics based on data pertaining to specific topics—such as whether people own or rent their house—to see how age affects answers to these different questions. The interactive visualization also allows you to filter results by geographic region, sex, marital status, or employment status.
Data here comes from the 2017 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) via the American Community Survey, which is published by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Let’s dive into how American differ by age, by looking at some specific charts:
Employment Status, by Age
This is a simple one to start with, but it makes it easy to see how the data works. In the below chart, it’s evident that most younger and older Americans are not in the labor force, while the majority of working age Americans are employed or seeking work (unemployed).
Own or Rent, by Age
How about looking at whether Americans own or rent, or even if they live in a group quarters?
Race, by Age
The below chart is sorted by percentile, and it shows the percentage of individuals by race according to their age group. As the population skews younger, so does its racial diversity.
Marital Status, by Age
The below chart is sorted by percentile, and it shows the marital status (married, divorced, etc.) of different age groups.
The Generational Effect
Visualizing Population Density Patterns in Six Countries
These maps show the population density of several countries, using 3D spikes to denote where more people live.
As of 2022, Earth has 8 billion humans. By 2050, the population is projected to grow to 10 billion.
In the last 50 years, the global population more than quadrupled. But none of this growth has been evenly spread out, including within countries.
This series of 3D maps from Terence Teo, an associate professor at Seton Hall University, renders the population density of six countries using open-source data from Kontur Population. He used popular programming language R and a path-tracing package, Rayshader, to create the maps.
France and Germany: Population Density Spikes and Troughs
Let’s take a look at how the population spreads out in different countries around the world. Click the images to explore higher-resolution versions.
France is the world’s 7th largest economy and second-most-populous country in the EU with 65 million people. But a staggering one-fifth of the French population lives in Paris and its surrounding metro—the most populous urban area in Europe.
Many residents in the Paris metropolitan area are employed in the service sector, which makes up one-third of France’s $2.78 trillion gross domestic product.
Unlike France, Germany has many dense cities and regions, with Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, and Cologne all having over a million residents. Berlin is the most populated at 3.5 million residents in the city proper, and 6 million in the wider urban area.
That said, the relatively recent reunification of West and East Germany in 1991 meant that post-WWII growth was mostly concentrated in West Germany (and West Berlin).
Italy and Chile: Coast to Coast
In Italy, another phenomenon affects population density and urban development—a sprawling coastline.
Despite having a large population of 59 million and large metropolitan areas throughout, Italy’s population spikes are closer to the water.
The port cities of Genoa, Napoli, and Palermo all have large spikes relative to the rest of the country, as does the capital, Rome. Despite its city center located 15 miles inland from the sea, it extends to the shore through the district of Ostia, where the ancient port of Rome existed.
Meanwhile in Chile, stuck between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, population spikes corroborate with its many port towns and cities.
However, the country is more concentrated than Italy, with 40% of its residents congregating around the capital of Santiago.
Turkey and Canada: Marred by Mountains and Climes
Though Chile has difficulties with terrain, it is relatively consistent. Other countries have to attempt to settle many different climes—regions defined by their climates.
Mountains to the south and east, a large, semi-arid plateau, and even a small desert leave few centers of urban growth in Türkiye.
Predictably, further west, as the elevation comes down to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, population spikes begin to heighten. The largest of course is the economic and cultural hub of Istanbul, though the capital Ankara is also prominent with more than 5 million residents.
In Canada, the Rocky Mountains to the west and freezing cold temperatures in the center and north account for the large country’s relative emptiness.
Though population spikes in Western Canada are growing rapidly, highly populous urban centers are noticeably concentrated along the St. Lawrence River, with the Greater Toronto Area accounting for more than one-sixth of the country’s 39 million people.
According to the World Bank, more than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and that trend is only growing.
By 2050, 7 out of 10 people are projected to live in cities. This congregation makes cities a beehive of productivity and innovation—with more than 80% of the world’s GDP being generated at these population centers.
It’s in this context that mapping and studying urban development becomes all the more important, particularly as policymakers try their hand at sustainable urban planning.
As Teo puts it:
“By showing where people are (and are not), they show us where political and economic power is concentrated, and perhaps where and who our governments represent.”
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