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Is Median Age an Accurate Measurement of Population Age?

August 14, 2019
Data Visualization
By: Jason Holte

Two counties can have the same median age and still be completely different. Here’s how demographic data can help successful companies understand population age.

According to the US Census Bureau, the median age of the US population rose from 37.2 in 2010 to 38.2 in 2018. This trend suggests that the United States as a whole is getting older, but is it accurate to say that the country is aging at a consistent rate?

Aerial View of a Small City

The Census Bureau report does a tremendous job of illustrating why this assumption would be incorrect. As a measurement of the breakdown of its population, the median age of a city or county can be misleading, especially when attempting to draw comparisons between two or more. “Some may have relatively large shares of young adults and not many children or older people while other counties can have large proportions of children and 35- to 59-year-olds (i.e., their parents),” the report states. “Despite these compositional differences, these counties can have roughly the same median age.”

For businesses and governments alike, it is vitally important to be able to identify population characteristics at a micro level. Here’s how our map-based real estate application, LandVision™, empowers top professionals to understand population age and other characteristics.

Why Understanding Population Age Matters

We’ve spoken about the use of demographic data before, but for many organizations, population age is an extremely important data point. For example, almost every retailer understands who its exact target customer is based on consumer personas that account for the age, gender, spending habits, income, and other demographic characteristics of the people who most frequently utilize its goods or services. Similarly, governments frequently allocate resources and create programs according to their population age. These strategies can fail, however, if the data used to create them is too broad to be actionable. 

As the Census Bureau report indicates, the median age of a city or county can effectively mask the actual age breakdown of its population. Using the retail example from above, consumer personas are typically built using the population within a specific drive time of a store location. However, just because a city’s median age may fit a company’s target criteria does not mean that they can place a new store anywhere in the city and expect success. A closer look at demographics is needed to more accurately assess the viability of an individual site based on population age. Luckily, LandVision gives organizations the ability to drill down on the exact criteria that matter most to them. Here’s how.

How LandVision Helps Identify Population Characteristics

LandVision comes pre-loaded with a wealth of detailed demographic information layers. Using these data layers allows businesses to quickly visualize the average household income, population density, or median age of each census tract within a target market. Selecting any of these tracts will allow for further analysis of their population age breakdown, income statistics, and over 20 additional demographic categories. Using these layers, businesses can also search for properties within a specified distance of any areas that meet their base demographic requirements, and further refine their search based on property characteristics, building details, and much more.

Demographic Overlay in LandVision | Is Median Age an Accurate Measurement of Population Age?

When evaluating prospective sites, businesses can also use LandVision’s robust reporting features to research a property’s surroundings. With just one click, LandVision users can generate a site profile report that details the characteristics of the area within a specific distance or drive time of a target location. This can be particularly beneficial when expanding into new markets, as it allows businesses to quickly get up to speed on a new territory that they may not be as familiar with as their home market.

Learn More

Over 1,200 businesses and government entities trust the DMP location intelligence platform to help them make more confident decisions. Contact us today to learn more, or schedule a free demo to see how LandVision can help you transform your unique workflows in your specific market.

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