Exploring Society By The Numbers

Population Structures and Cohorts

Kyle Crowder, Western Washington University


This module provides a gentle introduction to the use of WebCHIP software and census data to investigate basic population issues. In the first part of this module, you will use data from the 1990 U.S. census to create population pyramids for several racial and ethnic groups. These population pyramids provide the ability to view the age and sex structure of a population. They not only allow us to view the cumulative impacts of past patterns of fertility, mortality, and migration, but also provide hints about what a particular population is likely to look like in the future. In the second part of the module you will continue our exploration of basic U.S. population structures by comparing some of the basic characteristics of a number of distinct birth cohorts.

Learning Goals

  • Develop an understanding of WebCHIP procedures for examining cross-tabulations and introducing controls.
  • Develop hypotheses and identify the independent and dependent variable implied in an hypothesis.
  • Investigate and describe the relationship between two variables and assess whether the relationship supports or contradicts the hypothesis being tested.
  • Explore racial differences and historical trends in the structure of the U.S. population. Examine differences in socioeconomic differences between birth cohorts.

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Populations Problems class for undergraduate students. This activity looks at population in the in the 1990s and the labor force and educational attainment over time in the United States.

Description and Teaching Materials

Exercises: PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 121kB Mar24 09)
Exercises: DOC (Microsoft Word 89kB Mar24 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses four customized data sets; one made from the 1990 census and three made from census trend data combining census information from 1950-1990. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!


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References and Resources

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