Mapped: The Median Age in Every U.S. County
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Mapped: The Median Age in Every U.S. County

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Mapped: The Median Age in Every U.S. County

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.

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Misc

Mapped: Second Primary Languages Around the World

This fascinating map highlights the second most commonly spoken primary language in almost nearly every country.

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Second Languages Around the World Shareable

Mapped: Second Primary Languages Around the World

After the primary language, what second languages are used as native tongues in your country?

The answer reveals a lot about history and location. Whether through immigration, colonization, or local culture, a primary language can either spread around the world or remain rooted in place.

This map from MoveHub shows the second most commonly spoken primary language in most countries, using data from the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia as of February 2021.

The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Languages

First, it’s important to differentiate between primary languages and secondary languages.

A primary language—also known as a first or native language—is the language we use most frequently to communicate. These are languages we are usually born with, have a lot of exposure to, and use at home.

On the other hand, a secondary language is one we learn or pick up after our primary language. In many countries, English is the most commonly learned, with close to 1 billion speakers.

But a map of common second languages can simply show just how many countries prioritize learning English, the de-facto international language in many organizations. Instead, this map highlights the movement of people by showing the second-most common primary language.

The Second Most Common Primary Languages by Country

Even when filtering by primary language use, however, English and other Indo-European languages dominate the world.

With 55 countries speaking it as the second-most common primary language, English came out on top.

Top 10 Most Popular Second Primary LanguagesNumber of Countries
English55
French14
Russian13
Spanish8
Creole8
Arabic6
Kurdish4
Portugese4
Italian3
Quechua3

The use of English as a second primary language was primarily concentrated in Western Europe, Northern Africa, and Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Similarly to second-place French with 14 countries and third-place Russian with 13 countries, English was most common in proximity to English-speaking countries or where there was a history of immigration.

Other second-most common primary languages highlighted different cultures within countries, such as China’s second-most common language Cantonese. Alternatively, they showed the primary indigenous language before colonization, such as the Quechua languages in South America.

What other interesting or surprising language patterns can you spot in the map above?

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Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

This detailed map looks at where humans have (and haven’t) modified Earth’s terrestrial environment. See human impact in incredible detail.

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human impact on earths surface

Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

With human population on Earth approaching 8 billion (we’ll likely hit that milestone in 2023), our impact on the planet is becoming harder to ignore with each passing year.

Our cities, infrastructure, agriculture, and pollution are all forms of stress we place on the natural world. This map, by David M. Theobald et al., shows just how much of the planet we’ve now modified. The researchers estimate that 14.6% or 18.5 million km² of land area has been modified – an area greater than Russia.

Defining Human Impact

Human impact on the Earth’s surface can take a number of different forms, and researchers took a nuanced approach to classifying the “modifications” we’ve made. In the end, 10 main stressors were used to create this map:

  1. Built-Up Areas: All of our cities and towns
  2. Agriculture: Areas devoted to crops and pastures
  3. Energy and extractive resources: Primarily locations where oil and gas are extracted
  4. Mines and quarries: Other ground-based natural resource extraction, excluding oil and gas
  5. Power plants: Areas where energy is produced – both renewable and non-renewable
  6. Transportation and service corridors: Primarily roads and railways
  7. Logging: This measures commodity-based forest loss (excludes factors like wildfire and urbanization)
  8. Human intrusion: Typically areas adjacent to population centers and roads that humans access
  9. Natural systems modification: Primarily modifications to water flow, including reservoir creation
  10. Pollution: Phenomenon such as acid rain and fog caused by air pollution

The classification descriptions above are simplified. See the methodology for full descriptions and calculations.

A Closer Look at Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

To help better understand the level of impact humans can have on the planet, we’ll take a closer look three regions, and see how the situation on the ground relates to these maps.

Land Use Contrasts: Egypt

Almost all of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile and its delta, making it an interesting place to examine land use and human impact.

egypt land use impact zone

The towns and high intensity agricultural land following the river stand out clearly on the human modification map, while the nearby desert shows much less impact.

Intensive Modification: Netherlands

The Netherlands has some of the heavily modified landscapes on Earth, so the way it looks on this map will come as no surprise.

netherlands land use impact zone

The area shown above, Rotterdam’s distinctive port and surround area, renders almost entirely in colors at the top of the human modification scale.

Resource Extraction: West Virginia

It isn’t just cities and towns that show up clearly on this map, it’s also the areas we extract our raw materials from as well. This mountainous region of West Virginia, in the United States, offers a very clear visual example.

west virginia land use impact zone

The mountaintop removal method of mining—which involves blasting mountains in order to retrieve seams of bituminous coal—is common in this region, and mine sites show up clearly in the map.

You can explore the interactive version of this map yourself to view any area on the globe. What surprises you about these patterns of human impact?

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