Posted on: Friday, June 13, 2014 9:00 AM
Author: Joseph Kerski
Subject: Investigating Demographics through Population Pyramids in Live Web Maps
For decades, examining population pyramids has been an essential part of geography. And for good reason: In a small amount of space, they illustrate the distribution of age groups in a country, region, census enumeration district, or other geographic area. Through studying them, one quickly gets some sense of the demographic characteristics of an area. Population pyramids are a part of the "geoenrichment" capabilities in ArcGIS Online, so named because with a touch or two of the mouse, you have instant access to additional your demographic and lifestyle data that describe income, consumer behavior, market potential, and more. One easy way to get a sense for the possibilities available with ArcGIS Online for demographic study through population pyramids is through this demonstration web mapping resource.
Accessing the demonstration resource places you in Los Angeles County, but you can zoom and pan to other areas in the USA. In each case, the pyramid for the one mile buffer around your chosen point is shown, with comparison to the population pyramid for the entire county containing that point. The map must be at a medium to large scale. The pyramid for certain areas departs significantly from the characteristics for the county as a whole, as in the case below for an area in Orange County, California. What clues on the map indicate why the pyramid is so lopsided?
Investigate areas containing college campuses, military bases, prisons, summer homes, retirement communities, and other features. As students begin to think spatially using these tools, ask them to pose hypotheses about the age structure of the population, and then test those hypotheses. Discuss the effect that scale has on age data. Discuss the impact that variables such as immigration, migration, economic conditions, local land use, and perception of place have on age structure. Discuss the past and future age structure of chosen areas. The possibilities are endless with this single web mapping tool. When you use geoenrichment in your own account, note that it does consume credits, but not in this demonstration tool.