Mapped: The Median Age in Every U.S. County
To see the high resolution version of this map, go here.
The United States is a vast place, and every region is markedly different.
Usually we look at these differences through lenses like geography, population density, preferences, wealth, and culture – but age is another interesting one to think about, and age is a significant factor in predicting future economic health and growth for almost any society.
The Age Factor
As the French philosopher Auguste Comte wrote, “Demography is destiny”.
If you know a person’s age, you’re usually able to guess other things about them. For example, younger people are usually more motivated and inclined to launch careers, start families, and seek economic security. Not all young people are this way of course – but in aggregate, this is generally true.
Today’s map comes to us from Reddit user /r/JFBoyy and it charts median age by every U.S. county, parish, borough, and Census Area.
Counties by Age
Which states and counties stand out on the map?
Utah is an interesting place to start – it’s the youngest state with a median age of 29.9, and this is extremely clear when looking at the county level. The state has only one county (Daggett) with a median age range above 35-44 years.
Florida and Maine are two other states that stand out. Florida is the stereotypical “old” state, and there is some truth to that based on the numbers. It’s the only state that has a county (Sumter) with a median age range over 65 years. Meanwhile, Maine has only five counties that are not “old” counties – and the majority of counties have median ages that fall in the 45-54 range.
The Midwest and Southeast seem to have a higher distribution of counties with median ages in the “middle ground” 35-44 median age range. Alabama has 67 counties, and all but five of them are in that bracket.
Meanwhile, the West seems to have an interesting dichotomy in many of its states. Washington State, for example, has many counties with old populations (San Juan, Jefferson, and others) but also counties with younger populations (Whitman, Yakima, Kittitas).
Idaho is the most potent example of this tendency: all of the old people seem to live in the north of the state, and all of the young people in the south.
A Look to the Future
Here is how median age projects out to 2040, but on a state level.
Overall the national median age is projected to go from 37.7 to 39 years.
Interestingly, while aging in the United States is expected to cause some demographic issues in the long run, the country’s challenges pale in comparison to other rapidly-aging countries in the Western world.
Visualizing Social Media Use by Generation
Every generation has the same desire for connection, but the way in which we connect over social media differs across age groups and regions.
Visualizing Social Media Use by Generation
Our world has never been more connected than it is today.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population is plugged into the matrix, with over 4.4 billion internet users across multiple device types. We use these devices for work and for play—and social media has altered the way we interact both online and offline.
Today’s infographic from Global Web Index compares key generational and regional differences of social media use based on data from nearly 114,000 internet users, highlighting how pervasive social media has become in our lives.
Note: China is excluded from the usage data regarding specific social networks and apps.
From Age to Age: Social Media by Generation
How does the use of social media vary by generation?
Boomers currently rank last in nearly every category and metric when it comes to technology and social media use. This generation didn’t grow up inundated with technology in the way today’s youth are.
However, Boomers are showing the greatest increase in activity on social media platforms. For example, usage of Instagram and WhatsApp is up 59% and 44% respectively for this group since 2016, which is more than double the global average.
Also known as the ‘MTV Generation’, the Gen X group was the last generation to grow up before the Internet truly took off. The early years of this group were marked by a burst of new technologies, from wireless phones to personal computers.
On average, Gen Xers spend nearly two hours on social media per day—less than Millennials and Gen Z, but more than Boomers.
Perhaps surprisingly, Millennials show a slow down in the time spent on social media. From 2017-2018, screen time for Millennials on social media decreased by one minute, to 2 hours 38 minutes per day. This trend points to Millennials seeking real-life experiences and better engagement from the brands they interact with online, rather than passive scrolling.
Other factors also play a role in this evolution─nearly 50% of Millennials admit that their activity on social media has caused them to overspend to impress their networks.
Gen Z is the first group in history that has never known a world without the Internet. Immersed in the online world since birth, Gen Z surpasses Millennials in daily activity on social media with 2 hours 55 minutes spent per day.
North American, Latin American, and European Generation Z-ers lead in the number of social accounts they’re actively using. Many are also moving away from platforms like Facebook in favor of multimedia-heavy sites such as YouTube and Instagram.
Social Media by the Numbers
Social media sites measure the number of unique users on the platform each month as a metric of success. Below is a snapshot of the five major social media sites shown in today’s graphic and their active user count.
Monthly Active Users (MAU) as of July 2019
- Facebook: 2.4 billion
- YouTube: 2 billion
- WhatsApp: 1.6 billion
- Instagram: 1 billion
- Twitter: 330 million
Even more striking is what happens in a social media minute:
- 41.6 million messages sent over Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
- 347,222 people are scrolling Instagram
- 87,500 people posting to Twitter
- 4.5 million videos on YouTube being watched
Social Media’s Role in Retail
Social media has evolved from simply keeping us connected to our friends. Users can now access career tools, engage with their favorite companies, stay current with global events, and find love.
Across all regions and generations, social media has propelled e-commerce into the limelight. More than ever before, social media sites are being used for product research, brand engagement, and online purchases. For example, Instagram now offers one-click shop features that allow users to buy what they see immediately, with a simple tap on their screens.
The greatest growth in e-commerce, however, has been the influencer industry. These star-studded internet personalities boast massive online followings from a wide range of demographics—and companies are taking notice.
In 2018, 72% of major brands stated that they were outsourcing a significant portion of their marketing resources to online influencers. Followers feel as though they’re getting a product recommendation from a friend, making them more likely to buy quickly.
Social Media Growth
Despite the rate of social media growth slowing down, social media use is still growing. From 2017 to 2018, the average person increased usage by three minutes per day, while becoming a new user of 0.8 social media accounts.
Social media is a broad, multi-faceted, and complex industry that appeals to a wide range of cultures, age groups, and personalities. While growth in social media activity may be slowing down, a growing global population may mean we’ll see more opportunities to stay connected.
Visualizing 200 Years of Systems of Government
At the start of the 19th century, less than 1% of humanity lived under democratic rule. See how systems of government have changed over the last 200 years.
Visualizing 200 Years of Systems of Government
Centuries ago, most of our ancestors were living under a different political paradigm.
Although democracy was starting to show signs of growth in some parts of the world, it was more of an idea, rather than an established or accepted system of government.
Even at the start of the 19th century, for example, it’s estimated that the vast majority of the global population — roughly 84% of all people — still lived under in autocratic regimes or colonies that lacked the authority to self-govern their own affairs.
The Evolution of Rule
Today’s set of charts look at global governance, and how it’s evolved over the last two centuries of human history.
Leveraging data from the widely-used Polity IV data set on political regimes, as well as the work done by economist Max Roser through Our World in Data, we’ve plotted an empirical view of how people are governed.
Specifically, our charts break down the global population by how they are governed (in absolute terms), as well as by the relative share of population living under those same systems of government (percentage terms).
Classifying Systems of Government
The Polity IV data series defines a state’s level of democracy by ranking it on several metrics, such as competitive and open elections, political participation, and checks on authority.
Polity scores are on a -10 to +10 scale, where the lower end (-10 to -6) corresponds with autocracies and the upper end (+6 to +10) corresponds to democracies. Below are five types of government that can be derived from the scale, and that are shown in the visualization.
A territory under the political control of another country, and/or occupied by settlers from that country.
Examples: 🇬🇮 Gibraltar, 🇬🇺 Guam, 🇵🇫 French Polynesia
A single person (the autocrat) possesses supreme and absolute power.
Examples: 🇨🇳 China, 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia, 🇰🇵 North Korea
- Closed Anocracy
An anocracy is loosely defined as a regime that mixes democratic and autocratic features. In a closed anocracy, political competitors are drawn only from an elite and well-connected pool.
Examples: 🇹🇭 Thailand, 🇲🇦 Morocco, 🇸🇬 Singapore
- Open Anocracy
Similar to a closed anocracy, an open anocracy draws political competitors from beyond elite groups.
Examples: 🇷🇺 Russia, 🇲🇾 Malaysia, 🇧🇩 Bangladesh
Citizens exercise power by voting for their leaders in elections.
Examples: 🇺🇸 United States, 🇩🇪 Germany, 🇮🇳 India
A Long-Term Trend in Question
In the early 19th century, less than 1% of the global population could be found in democracies.
In more recent decades, however, the dominoes have fallen — and today, it’s estimated that 56% of the world population lives in societies that can be considered democratic, at least according to the Polity IV data series highlighted above.
While there are questions regarding a recent decline in freedom around the world, it’s worth considering that democratic governance is still a relatively new tradition within a much broader historical context.
Will the long-term trend of democracy prevail, or are the more recent indications of populism a sign of reversion?
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