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Demographic Characteristics

Demographics are the classifiable characteristics of a given population. Demographic characteristics most commonly used in public health statistics include, age, gender, race/ethnicity, geographic area, education level and income.

Why It's Important

Analysis of public health data by demographic characteristics is essential to the reduction and elimination of health disparities. The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 describes health disparities as differences in "the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates in the population as compared to the health status of the general population." The definition can be applied to any demographic group, not just racial/ethnic minorities.

Analysis by demographic characteristics also shows at what age certain diseases and conditions typically affect persons as well as how life events, choices, and circumstances (e.g., marriage, military service, and educational attainment) affect health outcomes.

What Is Known

Certain demographic groups have consistently better outcomes than others on a variety of public health issues. For example, infant mortality among whites is a fraction of that among blacks and the death rate due to unintentional injury among women is about half that of men.

How It's Tracked

Demographic characteristics are tracked in most public health data sets including, but not limited to: