Activity Two

Graphing Aging in the United States — National Patterns

Introduction:
Population pyramids help us observe the distribution of age groups within a population. The relative size of one age group compared to another can have important social, economic, and political consequences. This activity involves construction and analysis of a series of population pyramids for the United States, past, present, and anticipated future.

Reading Population Pyramids:
A population pyramid graphically displays a population’s age and sex
Population of the United States, 1990
(age in years)

Males

Females

composition. By showing numbers or proportions of males and females in each age group, the pyramid creates a “picture” of a population’s basic characteristics. Pyramids based on proportions or percent of population in each age-sex group (called cohorts) are best for comparing populations of different sizes. The sum of all the age-sex cohorts in the population pyramid equals 100 percent of the population. A population pyramid is a simple bar graph constructed around a central axis, with bars to the left most commonly representing males, and those to the right, females. Each horizontal bar represents the size of an age-sex cohort as a percent of the total population. In the graph to the left, the bottom bar shows the percent of males and females who were under five years of age in 1990; the bar located at ages 30–34 on the pyramid represents all those alive and living in the United States in 1990 who were in that age cohort; and so forth up to the pyramid’s top. Each year a new cohort is born and “appears” at the bottom of the pyramid, while the cohorts above it move

85 and over 80 – 84 75 – 79 70 – 74 65 – 69 60 – 64 55 – 59 50 – 54 45 – 49 40 – 44 35 – 39 30 – 34 25 – 29 20 – 24 15 – 19 10 – 14 5–9 Under 5
5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5

(percent)

Source: US Bureau of the Census

Materials:
Activity Two Worksheet Colored pencils

up. As cohorts age, they inevitably lose members because of death, and may gain or lose because of migration.

Constructing Population Pyramids:
A simplified population pyramid can be constructed using age-sex data in ten-year cohorts. Working individually or in groups (as instructed), use data for 1940, 1960, 1980, 2000, or 2020 and the blank pyramid grid, provided on Activity Two Worksheet, to construct timeseries population pyramids for the United States. For example, for 1940, in the grid section at the bottom of the pyramid blank, labeled “under 10 years” shade the left side of the grid to reflect the percent of the population that was male, and the right side of the grid, the percent female, using different colors for males and females. Then repeat this step for each ten-year cohort, maintaining the same colors for all males and all females.

Vocabulary:
Population pyramid Cohort Aging population

Objectives:
This activity involves... v construction of population pyramids v interpretation of population pyramids v evaluation of aging trends in the U.S. over time v speculation about the socioeconomic implications of aging for the United States

over

Then discuss the following questions. But the top of the pyramid shows that females comprise a majority. Analyze pyramids for the United States from 1940–2020. Pyramids also show the relationship between the “dependent” population (under 20 and over 64 years) and the “economically productive” population (between 20–64 years). and political issues that are likely to emerge as the U.Activity Two (continued) Interpreting Population Pyramids: A population pyramid can tell a great deal about a population at a glance. which could have serious implications in the coming years. population ages? Aging in the United States is an education module developed by the Population Reference Bureau with support from the National Institute on Aging . Its shape can give significant clues to a population’s past and future. the pyramid on the front of this page reveals a slight majority of males at the very youngest ages. This is because females typically outlive males.S.. For example. economic. Pyramids may reveal a postwar “baby boom. there will be an imbalance between the “dependent” and “productive” populations..S. v What patterns can be observed in this series of pyramids? v When is the “baby boom” first observed? v Trace the movement of the “baby boom” generation through the pyramids. What effects — social. population becomes older. This is because there are about 105 males born for every 100 females. economic. In summary .” as well as an “echo” effect as baby boomers start to have kids of their own. particularly for retirement and health care systems. political — has this generation had on the country over the years? v When will the “baby boom” generation reach retirement age? How will this affect the “dependency ratio”? v What are some social. As the U.

36 4.07 8.12 Female 6.94 9.55 5.57 6.57 5.72 6.44 6.12 5.63 3.64 7.18 9.89 3.87 2.65 8.60 6.40 2.28 6.77 7.91 Female 7.08 0.34 1.82 9.57 7.83 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 70 – 79 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 60 – 69 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 50 – 59 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 40 – 49 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 30 – 39 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 20 – 29 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 10 – 19 ____________________________________________________________________________________ Under 10 1980 Under 10 years 10 to 19 years 20 to 29 years 30 to 39 years 40 to 49 years 50 to 59 years 60 to 69 years 70 to 79 years 80 years and over Male 7.73 3.24 7.92 2.57 6.53 6.34 2.51 7.87 3.48 9.51 1.08 5.46 6.93 3.16 3.78 6.08 6.75 Female 7.42 8.08 5.58 Female 10.46 6.93 6.37 0.11 3.21 2020 Under 10 years 10 to 19 years 20 to 29 years 30 to 39 years 40 to 49 years 50 to 59 years 60 to 69 years 70 to 79 years 80 years and over Source: U.02 8.94 4.39 I 12 I 10 I 8 I 6 I 4 I 2 I 0 percent I 2 I 4 I 6 I 8 I 10 I 12 .21 8.59 5.79 5.37 3.67 6.12 6.89 4.05 7.13 6.09 8.39 4.54 3.90 6.15 4.22 2.07 6.97 0.35 5.S.46 7.78 2.81 3. Bureau of Census.67 6.45 Female 6.14 3.63 7.43 6.53 1.91 7. Male 6.26 1.54 2000 Under 10 years 10 to 19 years 20 to 29 years 30 to 39 years 40 to 49 years 50 to 59 years 60 to 69 years 70 to 79 years 80 years and over Male 7.05 1.43 5.05 Draw your population pyramid below: age in years 80 and over Males Females 1960 Under 10 years 10 to 19 years 20 to 29 years 30 to 39 years 40 to 49 years 50 to 59 years 60 to 69 years 70 to 79 years 80 years and over Male 11.91 6.Activity Two Worksheet: Graphing Aging in the United States — National Pyramid Data — (Percent) 1940 Under 10 years 10 to 19 years 20 to 29 years 30 to 39 years 40 to 49 years 50 to 59 years 60 to 69 years 70 years and over Male 8.

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