Demographic Characteristics: An Important Part of Science

Demographic characteristics are an interesting form in approaching a new social development and situation. Along with the progress of the world, the size, composition, and distribution of the population is a substantial thing that we have to deal with.

When we are talking about the demography, it is something relevant to something we have experienced or will experience at some point in our life.

I believe you have heard some familiar demographic questions. What is your gender? When and where were you born? What is your job? Are you married? Etc.

Unconsciously, you are already dealing with demography. You just don’t realize it.

It is simple. Demographic characteristics are something that relevant in people phenomena.

Using demographic characteristics in government

Definition of demography

In language, demographic comes from Geek.

Demos = people or population

Grafein = writing

If you combine them, demography is the science of people or population.

The population is a product of the number of births, deaths, and migrations. Demography is the name given to the study and interaction of the population, and the influence of changes in composition and population growth.

Now, take a look for demography definition based on the scientist

Demography is the scientific study of human populations, primarily with respect to their size, their structure, and their development. (United Nations, 1958:3)

Demography is the name conventionally given to the study of nature and interactions of these rates in human populations, and the effects of changes on the composition and growth of such population (Hawthorn, 1970,3)

Demography is the statistical and mathematical study of the size, composition, and spatial distribution of human populations and of changes over time in these aspects through the operation of five processes of fertility, mortality, marriage, migration, and social mobility. (Bogue, 1962:1-2)

Definition of demography based on scientist

What are the Demographic Characteristics?

Demographic characteristics are characteristics that describe differences in a society based on gender, age, occupation, level of education, religion, ethnicity, income, family type, marital status, geographical location, social class, and various other aspects of the population.

There are 4 main things what demographic characteristics talk about.

1. Size

The amount is the most frequently used demographic measure. This shows how demographic conditions with absolute value in an area.

2. Distribution

Distribution is about the comparison. After getting the amount, distribution has always been an interesting thing to discuss.

3. Structure

The structure gives us more detailed and detailed information about the demographic conditions in a region. By knowing the structure, various other characteristics will be explained very interestingly.

4. Change

Change is about time and conditions. It gives us knowledge about how the world changes and how it affects the population.

If you look closely on the definitions above, you’ll find 5 big picture of demographic characteristics.

  • Fertility

Among demographers, fertility is the topic that gets the most attention compared to other characteristics. It determines the population structure. High fertility is responsible for the population explosion and low fertility is also responsible for the aging population.

Almost every country in the world tries to control fertility to maintain the balance of population growth. There is country who try to reduce the fertility rate, but also there is country who trying to improve the fertility rate to keep their nation stable.

Fertility transition is always the most discussable topic over the demographic study.

  • Mortality

Another characteristic that we should know in demography is mortality.

Honestly, mortality or death is something unpredictable. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, or anytime. Death cases, especially in large numbers, are related to social, economic, and environmental health issues.

Mortality characteristics are useful for analyzing the condition of the population and its relationship in various aspects, especially health.

We usually associate death with social variables such as poverty or unemployment. In fact, deaths also often occur due to bad environmental aspects or lifestyle changes that occur in the community.

By understanding the contribution of mortality in demography, we can analyze the population condition and create a better life after.

Demographic characteristics for population projection
  • Marriage

For several reasons, marriage is a special interest.

Marital status has direct and indirect impacts on population growth. It influences fertility, mortality, even migration.

Everybody agrees that marriage is a human right. There is no one can interfere with someone decided to get married. But, along with the world development, marriage is something that should be concerned, especially by the government.

Social change and culture already make marriage change. There are several cases that make people curious. Change of view towards marriage, even no marriage person is another characteristic that makes the transition.

Goal of demographic characteristics
  • Migration

The most problematic character in demography is migration. If we talk about fertility, it has a contribution to birth. If we discuss mortality, of course, it is about death.

But, what about migration? Not all people movement should be categorized as migration.

In population point of view, migration or change in population registration is identified as a change in residence. As a demographer, we should be classified which one should be called migration and which one is not.

Migration is an unavoidable process in human life. People will naturally move into an area which provides better opportunity likes economy, education, health, and happiness.

  • Social Mobility

During the world movement, the social transition is a phase that changes the demographic. Challenge such as industrial revolution, literacy, urbanization, secularization and growing consumerism is already made a huge impact in demographic growth.

It also affects fertility, mortality, marriage, and migration. Knowing and understanding social mobility would be the key to figure how demographic shift.

Demographic characteristics in population

Why demographic characteristics are important?

Demography is an interdisciplinary science because it is connected to other discipline subjects such as statistics, geography, economics, health, and others. The truth is, many demographers have their own focus such as poverty, unemployment, population studies, etc based on their own interest.

Because it is a dependent study, demography always is a part of our history. Developed countries always pay attention to it because it keep the nation grow.

1. Learning the quantity, quality, and distribution of residents in a region

Demographic characteristics help us learn about the conditions of the population in a region. There are many aspects that can explain population conditions such as education, health, etc. which are certainly very useful.

Examining and linking these characteristics to each other will be a very informative analysis.

2. Explaining population conditions in the present or past

Demographic characteristics can explain size, distribution, structure, and change in population. You can add another aspect such as economic, health, education, etc to explain population conditions in your analysis.

Using time series data will be more interesting. You can see the flow, differences, and growth for each group of population and explain it in your focus.

Population and demography characteristics

3. Knowing the causal relationship of variables that affect population growth

Each phenomenon is related to one another, including demographics. Every characteristic such as birth, death, migration, or social change is a causal relationship that cannot be separated.

Demographic characteristics make it easy for us to identify these relationships in a structured, systematic and easy to understand manner.

4. Predicting the future population growth

Demography is not just about describing and analyzing the present or the past. We can use all the factors to predict the population growth in the future. Fertility, mortality, and migration are the main causes of society changing, especially the size and distribution.

We can predict and project the size of the population for the next years, even for the next decade by using the right formula.

5. The basis of appropriate policy-making in the field of population

Almost, every decision and policy made by the government should consider demography as the basic element. The fair policy is about making equality condition for all, not just for some people or group. Demographic characteristic is one of the most contributing factors in decision making.

Things that we should know about demographic characteristics

Demographic Characteristics

Favorably, there are unlimited demographic characteristics in the world. Allow me write some of them.

1. Geographical characteristics

– Place of usual residence

– Place of birth

– Place of the previous residence

– Urban and rural

2. Demographic and social characteristics

– Gender

– Marital status

– Age

– Religion

– Ethnicity

3. Fertility characteristics

– Children ever born alive

– Children living

– Age, date or duration of first marriage

– Birth planning

– Age of mother at first child born alive

Geographical, fertility, and social characteristics in population

4. Mortality characteristics

– Household deaths in the last 12 months

– Infant deaths in the last 12 months

5. Housing characteristics

– Floor area

– Floor type

– Type of roof

– Type of wall

– Drinking water sources

– Source of electricity

6. Characteristics of technology use

– Smartphone using

– Internet using

– Internet expenditure

7. Educational characteristics

– Level of school participation

– Literacy

– Dropout rate

– Field of education

8. Disability characteristics

– Visual disorder

– Hearing disorder

– A physical condition that interferes with the activity

9. Economic characteristics

– Income source

– Monthly or weekly expenditure

– Asset

You can add your own interest in demographic characteristics

Fortunately, demographic characteristics is a developing science. It adapts to the growth of the world. It always

For example, 2 years ago, I conducted a demographic survey related to the health of the population. The purpose of this survey is to determine the health condition of the population from various aspects.

One interesting aspect that was explored in this survey was about the health of the reproductive health of the population. This is a sensitive thing. You have to use proper data collection instrument to get the real information.

However, demographer needs this information to get more accurate population characteristics.

You can also add things that you think are interesting to study and associate them with demographic variables.


Demographic characteristics give us a global perspective to improve the lives of the present and future. Supporting by empirical and evidence-based data, demography contributes to the betterment of society.

It is an interdisciplinary field drawing from many disciplines of science, including economics, sociology, anthropology, mathematics, statistics, etc.

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