Vizualizations and analysis from census data

 

  • Your visualizations should include at least 4 aspects of the data (e.g. population, questions, gender, race).
  • You should present data in at least 4 visualizations. These could be the same (e.g. for similar graphs that show different data) or different (data shown in several different visual presentations)
  • The visualizations should stand alone as visual artifacts, so you should include textual titles, a descriptive paragraph, and good captions of your images so anyone who comes to your visualization knows everything they need to understand it.
  • It should be exportable in a high resolution format. Consider using some of the Adobe suite for this, which you can get from terpware.
  • You should include novel, interesting presentations of data that give unique insights beyond what someone could get just plugging data in to excel

Census Exhibit for Priddy Library: Some Resources and Research Questions

Resources

  1. Decennial census data: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/data.html (Links to an external site.) and https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html (Links to an external site.).

This is the main data set I’d like to work with for most of our visualizations.

  1. Broader collection of Census Bureau data: https://www.census.gov/data.html (Links to an external site.)

Includes data from other sources, like the American Community Surveys, which contains a lot more detailed and frequently gathered estimates than the decennial census. 

  1. Pew Research Center’s material for background research: https://www.pewresearch.org/topics/u-s-census/ (Links to an external site.)

I would recommend signing up for the email course if you can https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/01/24/want-to-understand-the-2020-census-take-our-new-email-course/ (Links to an external site.). All you have to do is read a series of emails they send you every couple of days, and it teaches you a lot about the census more generally.

Potential Research Questions

Using Recent Census Data (use decennial census data here, not data from the American Community Surveys)

  • What was the distribution of population in the United States in 2010? You can break this down by age, race, or sex if you like. Try to make a visualization that is pretty rich—if you’re showing the whole country, use county-level data. If you’re showing the state of Maryland, use block or tract level data.
  • Which counties (or blocks/tracts) in the United States have the highest concentration of young people? Older folks? Middle aged folks? Which geographic areas have the highest concentration of a given racial or ethnic group?
  • What were the participation rates for the 2010 census by geographic area? Are there any trends or patterns in who participates in the census?
  • What notable changes have occurred in population at the city, county, or state level between 1990 and 2010?

Using Historical Census Data

  • Using historical data from several censuses (or all of them, if you like) tell a story about changing population or demographics with graphics and maps. 

  

On Census Geographies

  • What are the geographic entities used to organize census information (state, county, tract, block, etc)? With a series of maps, can you make it easy for a layperson to understand the geography of the census?
  • How have the census geographies changed over time? In other words, how have the # and sizes of the tracts, blocks, etc. changed as our country has grown? Have these units become larger or smaller in terms of population or land area?
  • Is there a relationship between census geographies and congressional districts? Does a change in one reflect a change in the other?

On the changing structure of the census over time

  • What kinds of information was asked in the 1790 census? How has this information changed over time?

See https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/index_of_questions/ (Links to an external site.) for more information. You can focus on just one question type, like race (see an example here https://www.pewresearch.org/interactives/what-census-calls-us/ (Links to an external site.)) or look at a group of questions.

  • How have collection methods changed over time? It would be great to produce a timeline, infographic, or similar that incorporates images and/or descriptions of various forms over the years, culminating with this year’s online form. 

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