Science, Tech, Math › Social Sciences Demography and Demographics in Economics The definition and importance of demography in the field of economics Share Flipboard Email Print Victor Spinelli/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images Social Sciences Economics U.S. Economy Employment Supply & Demand Psychology Sociology Archaeology Environment Ergonomics Maritime By Mike Moffatt Professor of Business, Economics, and Public Policy Ph.D., Business Administration, Richard Ivey School of Business M.A., Economics, University of Rochester B.A., Economics and Political Science, University of Western Ontario Mike Moffatt, Ph.D., is an economist and professor. He teaches at the Richard Ivey School of Business and serves as a research fellow at the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management. our editorial process Mike Moffatt Updated January 18, 2018 Demography is defined as the quantitive and scientific study of vital statistical information that together illuminates the changing structure of human populations. As a more general science, demography can and does study any dynamic living population. For those focused on human studies, some define demography as plainly the scientific study of human populations and their characteristics. The study of demography often leads to the categorization and segmentation of people based on their shared characteristics or traits. The origin of the word further solidifies the study's relationship to its human subjects. The English word demography is derived from the French word démographie which stems from the Greek word dēmos meaning populace or people. Demography as the Study of Demographics As the study of human populations, demography is essentially the study of demographics. Demographics are the statistical data relating to a defined population or group that are collected and analyzed. Demographics can include the size, growth, and geographical distribution of human populations. Demographics can further consider characteristics of a population like age, sex, race, marital status, socioeconomic status, level of income, and level of education. They can also include the collection of records of births, deaths, marriages, migrations, and even incidence of disease within a population. A demographic, on the other hand, generally refers to a particular sector of the population. How Demographics Are Used The use of demographics and the field of demography is widespread. Demographics are used by governments, corporations, and other non-government entities to learn more about a population's characteristics and the trends within that population. Governments may use demographics to track and assess the effects of their policies and to determine whether a policy had the intended effect or carried unintentional effects both positive and negative. Governments may use individual demographics studies in their research, but they also generally collect demographics data in the form of a census. Businesses, on the other hand, may use demographics to judge the size and influence of a potential market or to assess the characteristics of their target market. Businesses may even use demographics to determine whether their goods are ending up in the hands of the people the company has deemed their most important customer group. The results from these corporate demographics studies generally lead to a more effective use of marketing budgets. Within the field of economics, demographics can be used to inform anything from economic market research projects to economic policy development. As important as the demographics are themselves, demographic trends are equally as important as the size, influence, and even interest in certain populations and demographic groups will change over time as a consequence of changing political, social, and economic situations and affairs.