Demographic Terms that will Blow Your Mind
In the esoteric discipline of Demography, you’ll often find highfalutin terms that will knit your eyebrows, make your head spin, or knit your eyebrows and make your head spin at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong. You will probably have intuitive understanding of most demographic terms. Sometimes, though, you should not believe what your intuition tells you. This is the case in the following terms:
- reproductive career
Intuition will tell you that this refers to a career in reproduction. “What kind of career do you want? I’d like a reproductive career.” You can also say, “Surrogate mothers have reproductive careers.”
Your intuition will be wrong. This is just a technical demographic term that refers to the period when a woman is physiologically able to reproduce. To all the women out there, your reproductive career begins with menarche (your first menstruation) and ends with your menopause or sterilisation.
Nope, you don’t need to prepare for it. It comes naturally. 😆
- vital statistics
36-24-36? Nope! In demography, there are so-called vital events such as births, deaths, marriages, etc. Vital statistics are stats or info about such vital events.
- sex ratio
In demography, sex is discussed as a matter of course. Birth is one of the vital events, after all, and generally it’s not possible without sex. In this case though, we’re not referring to sexual intercourse.
Sex ratio is a demographic measure that shows the ratio of males to females in a given group of people. It answers the question: how many males are there for every 100 females?
- age-dependency ratio
Nope. This does not measure the number of people who are dependent on their age, he he he (sorry to those who are not so literal-minded as to think that “age-dependency ratio” means that)
Technically, this is the measure used to compare the number of people who are generally considered to be economically dependent (people who are under 15 years and over 64 years) to the number of people who are generally considered to be economically active or, to be more precise, productive. In plain speak, that’s the number of children and elderly divided by the number of people in the working-age group.
- gross reproduction rate
Duh? I know, nothing immediate comes to mind. You can only probably tell that it is another demographic measure – one that measures the rate of gross reproduction, whatever that means.
The GRR is the average number of female children (yup, daughters) that will be born alive to you (but only if you’re a woman) in your lifetime if you give birth as “expected” throughout your “reproductive career” (i.e. your childbearing years). The “expected” is based on the age-specific fertility rate of a specific year, say, 1990. Simply speaking, if you were to be predictable in your childbearing behavior, you will be able to predict the average number of daughters that you will have in your lifetime.
- zero population growth
This does not mean that there will be no more births, as that particular someone in the Zero Population Growth story
thought. There will still be births, but the rate of mortality is such that the number of deaths balances out the number of births. Consequently, the number of people remains stable or, in layman’s terms, remains the same. Note that this condition assumes that the population is closed or, in layman’s terms, there’s no in- and out-migration.
Need a drink of water… rate of mortality, stable population, in-migration, out-migration… just managed to use 4 technical terms in one paragraph…
Now that I think about it, I’ll let these terms simmer here for a while. I’ll be back to torture you with more when I find more interesting demographic terms.