Composite U.S. Demographics
This table lists some major demographic groupings in the United States. Race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and other factors are factors in personal and group identity. This table is unusual in that it presents a merged list of these factors. This more accurately reflects actual American society, in which most people belong to more than one group. All individuals can be classified into multiple groupings below. This list is not comprehensive. Please write to suggest additional groups.
Sources1. U.S. Census Bureau. Year 2000 Census. URL: http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/c2kbr01-1.pdf
Population of the United States by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2000 Census Results
Current total U.S. population (284,800,000) is from the U.S. Census Bureau, and is based on current growth rates applied to the 2000 Census figures.
NOTE: Percentages add up to more than 100% because Hispanics may be of any race and are therefore counted under more than one category.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000.
2. ARIS: The largest, most comprehensive surveys on religious identification were done in sociologists Barry A. Kosmin, Seymour P. Lachman and associates at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Their first major study was done in 1990: the National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI). This scientific nationwide survey of 113,000 Americans asked about religious preference, along with other questions. They followed this up, with even more sophisticated methodology and more questions, with the American Religious Identity Survey (ARIS) conducted in 2001, with a sample size of 50,000 Americans.
The ARIS data is published online at: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris/aris_index.htm
Note that the majority of people who self-identify in the "nonreligious" category say that they believe in God or a higher power, but they do not identify themselves as adherents of a specific religious group.
3. Organizational reporting; National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI; Kosmin, et al); Gallup data. Additional Southern Baptist info
4. Harris Election Poll, year 2000.
5. 1.51% of the total U.S. population identifies themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or 4.3 total million Americans. These numbers are based on figures provided by a broad-based coalition of gay rights organizations and homosexual advocacy groups. The primary source cited was the The National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS), published in the book The Social Organization of Sex: Sexual Practices in the United States (1994), by Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels.
A coalition of leading pro-homosexual activist groups has now admitted in a legal brief that only "2.8 percent of the male, and 1.4 percent of the female, population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual."... in an amicus curiae (or "friend of the court") brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Lawrence v. Texas. In the case, which was decided in June of 2003, homosexual activists successfully sought to have a Texas law barring homosexual sodomy declared unconstitutional. The brief was filed by a coalition of 31 pro-homosexual activist groups, including some of the leading national organizations like the Human Rights Campaign; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); and the People for the American Way Foundation. The unusually candid statement about the relatively low number of homosexuals in the population appeared on page 16 of the brief. The text contains the assertion, "There are approximately six million openly gay men and women in the United States, and 450,000 gay men and lesbians in Texas." After the national figure there appears a footnote, number 42 in the brief. The actual footnote at the bottom of the page reads as follows (in its entirety): "The most widely accepted study of sexual practices in the United States is the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). The NHSLS found that 2.8 percent of the male, and 1.4 percent of the female, population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. See Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sex: Sexual Practices in the United States (1994)..." Unfortunately, despite their candor about the small percentage of the population that is homosexual, the authors of the brief still managed to overestimate the actual number of "openly gay men and women" by more than a third. That's because the figures of "4 million openly gay men and 2 million women who identify as lesbian" were apparently arrived at by multiplying the 2.8 percent and 1.4 percent figures by the total number of males and females in the U.S. population. Yet it hardly seems reasonable to count any of the 60 million Americans who are fourteen years old or younger (and particularly the 40 million who are nine or younger) as "openly gay men and women." If one applies the percentage figures from the NHSLS instead to only the population of men and women 18 years old or more, one arrives at an estimate that perhaps 4.3 million Americans (2.8 million men and 1.5 million women) identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual. It is important as well to note that the "bisexual" component in that is fairly high. In fact, the percentage of the population that identifies exclusively as homosexual (not bisexual) is only 2 percent for men and 0.9 percent for women, or about 2 million men and slightly less than a million women. And even an exclusive homosexual self-identification is not always matched by similarly exclusive behavior. The NHSLS found that only 0.9 percent of men and 0.4 percent of women reported having only same-sex sexual partners since age 18, a figure that would represent a total of only about 1.4 million Americans (men and women combined). In fact, the book on the NHSLS that was cited in the homosexual groups' brief refers as well to "the myth of 10 percent," noting that it was probably drawn from part of the research of Alfred Kinsey. However, even Kinsey actually concluded that only "4 percent of the white males are exclusively homosexual throughout their lives." And the book by Laumann et al. notes that Kinsey used research methods that "would all tend to bias Kinsey's results toward higher estimates of homosexuality (and other rarer sexual practices) than those he would have obtained using probability sampling." [Two key reasons: Kinsey's research was conducted exclusively with males, which has a higher rates of homosexuality and bisexuality, and Kinsey's research was conducted predominantly within prison populations.] The Laumann book also mentions in a footnote that "Bruce Voeller (1990) claims to have originated the 10 percent estimate as part of the modern gay rights movement's campaign in the late 1970s to convince politicians and the public that 'We [gays and lesbians] Are Everywhere.' At the time, Voeller was the chair of the National Gay Task Force"--forerunner to one of the groups represented by the recent brief.From: Dan Black, Gary Gates, Seth Sanders, and Lowell Taylor, "Working Paper No. 12: Demographics of the Gay and Lesbian Population in the United States: Evidence from Available Systematic Data Sources", published October 1999 by the Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York (http://cprweb.maxwell.syr.edu/cprwps/pdf/wp12.pdf; viewed 15 November 2005):
The National Health and Social Live Survey (NHSLS) served as the basis for two well-known books, Sex in America: A Definitive Study (Michael, Gagnon, Laumann and Kolata, 1994), and The Social Organization of Sex: Sexual Practices in the United States (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, and Michaels 1994). This latter book features one chapter (Chapter 8) on gays and lesbians, which focuses on the definition of homosexuality, and the prevalence of gay, lesbian and bisexual behavior in the United States. One of the main issues addressed by Laumann et al. (1994, Chapter 8) is how varying definitions of homosexuality greatly affect the measured incidence rates... the rate at which men identify themselves as gay is only 2.8 percent and the rate at which women identify themselves as lesbians is only 1.4 percent. These rates are very similar to the rates at which men and women have exclusively same-sex sex (3.0 percent and 1.6 percent).Previously, combining multiple sources, Schmidt calculated that 1.8% of the U.S. population is gay or lesbian. Schmidt, Thomas E. Straight & Narrow: Compassion & Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press (1995), pg. 102-103. [Original sources: P. Painton, "The Shrinking Ten Percent," Time, April 26, 1993, pp. 27-29; P. Rogers, "How Many Gays Are There?" Newsweek, February 15, 1993, pg. 46; A.C. Kinsey, W.B. Pomeroy & C.E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1948); J. H. Court & J. G. Muir, eds., Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People (Lafayette, La.: Huntington House, 1990); T. W. Smith, "Adult Sexual Behavior in 1989: Number of Partners, Frequency of Intercourse and Risk of AIDS," Planning Perspectives 23 (May/June 1991): 102-7. See p. 104, table 2. Smith is director of the General Social Survey Project at the NORC (University of Chicago).]
6. U.S. Census: Languages Spoken at Home by Persons 5 Years and Over, by State (based on 1990 Census); Numerical figures from 1990 Census were converted to a proportion of total 1990 population, then extrapolated to 2000 population. URL: http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/language/table4.txt
7. Libertarian Party Press Release - 03 April 2000; URL: http://www.multiracial.com/news/pr20000403.html
8. 1995 Newsweek poll; URL: http://www.well.com/~jay/Dig101.html In the year 2000 election, exit polls indicated that 39% of voters identified themselves as Democrats, 35% identified themselves as Republicans, and 27% identified themselves as Independents.
9. August 2000 Gallup Poll; Question about being "born-again" or "evangelical" based on self-identification, and includes all who identify themselves as such, including Protestants, Catholics, Latter-day Saints, Orthodox, etc. URL: http://www.gallup.com/poll/indicators/indreligion3.asp
10. 1996 Britannica Book of the Year.
11. Hartford Institute study done in 2000, based on congregational surveys: "Faith Communities in the U.S. Today." Released 13 March 2001. Total numbers are institutionally-reported figures.
12. The Wiccan/Pagan Poll Final Results, conducted by the Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) beginning in late July, 1999. [Online source: http://www.cog.org/cogpoll_final.html]
13. 2001 edition of David Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia.
14. Vaughn, John N. Church Growth Today. www.megachurches.net.
15. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to official Church sources, U.S. membership as of December 31, 2003 was 5,503,192, which is 1.93% of the total U.S. population. The figures provided by this church have been confirmed to be accurate by the Kosmin NSRI poll, which surveyed 113,000 people nationwide. In 50% of U.S. states, survey results indicated slightly more Latter-day Saints in the population than official Church figures reported. In the other 50% of U.S. states, survey figures were slightly below official Church figures. Correlation between the two sets of data (official and independent survey) was higher than for any other denomination, indicating a high level of correlation between the number of Americans who self-identify as Latter-day Saints, and the number counted on membership roles. A Gallup poll conducted Nov. 10 to 12, 2003, sample size 1,004 adults (Jennifer Harper, "Religion leads to a merrier Christmas," 11 December 2003, The Washington Times) reported that 2% of Americans identify themselves as Latter-day Saints. The National Study of Youth and Religion conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 2.5% of U.S. teens identify themselves as Latter-day Saints. The project involved a telephone survey of 3,370 randomly selected English- and Spanish-speaking Americans, ages 13-17. This 2.5% figure (reported in the Los Angeles Times: "U.S. Teens Share Parents' Religion, Survey Finds," by Veronica Torrejon, 26 February 2005) is significantly higher than the proportion of Americans claimed by the Church as members, indicating two things: 1) Church membership skews young, with a higher proportion of teenagers claiming membership than older adults; and 2) nearly all teens counted as members on denominational records also identify themselves as Latter-day Saints.
16. "Evangelical" in the theological sense, according to the Barna polling organization's criteria:
All Barna Research studies define "evangelicals" as individuals who meet the born again criteria; say their faith is very important in their life today; believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; acknowledge the existence of Satan; contend that eternal salvation is possible only through God's grace, not through good deeds; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. In this approach, being classified as an evangelical has no relationship to church affiliation or attendance, nor does it rely upon people describing themselves as "evangelical."
17. National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI; Kosmin, et al): Survey of 113,000 adults. Percentages shown are those indicated by the 1990 survey. Numbers are based on those percentages of the 2000 projected total (adult and children) population. Survey respondents who answered the question about their religious affiliation include both affiliated and non-affiliated members (individuals not affiliated with a congregation or denomination, whose name is not on any denominational church records, but who identify at least nominally with a particular religious/denominational preference. People who stated they were Episcopalians, for example, made up 1.7% of the population of adults surveyed in 1990. Applying the same proportion to the total year 2000 U.S. projected population, one obtains 4,685,489. But the religious body itself reported 2,500,000 members in the year 2000. This represents the difference in the number of self-identified Episcopalians (who may be "members" in name only) versus affiliated (organizationally reported) members of the Episcopal Church (people actually in the congregational/denominational records).
18. Gallup Poll taken between Nov. 10 to 12, 2003. Sample size: 1,004 adults. The Washington Times reported (Jennifer Harper, "Religion leads to a merrier Christmas," 11 December 2003): "Among the respondents, 53 percent said they were Protestant, 23 percent Catholic, 7 percent 'other Christian,'... The most common Protestant denomination was Baptist at 12 percent, followed by Methodist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, 'nondenominational,' Lutheran, Church of Christ and Episcopalian." In a August 2000 Gallup Poll 57% of Americans had identified themselves as Protestants. The 12% statistics for Baptists in 2003 is down considerably from 2001, when the ARIS study found that 16.3% of the U.S. population identified themselves as Baptists. This 2001 figure was down from 19.4% found by the same researcher and methodology in 1990 (NSRI: sample size 113,000).
19. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): Media Center Factsheet: "Vegetarianism: Eating for Life"; URL: http://www.peta.org/factsheet/files/FactsheetDisplay.asp?ID=101: "In the United States alone, more than 12 million people are vegetarians..."
20. 2004 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, published by the National Council of Churches (NCC), using figures reported by individual denominations.
21. The National Study of Youth and Religion conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 1.5% of U.S. teens said they are Jewish. The project involved a telephone survey of 3,370 randomly selected English- and Spanish-speaking Americans, ages 13-17. Source: Los Angeles Times: "U.S. Teens Share Parents' Religion, Survey Finds," by Veronica Torrejon, 26 February 2005.
22. Keep in mind that most vegetarians are not Vegans. "A Time/CNN poll published in Time Magazine on July 7, 2002 found that 4% of American adults consider themselves vegetarians, and 5% of self-described vegetarians consider themselves vegans. This suggests that 0.2% of American adults are vegans. A 2000 poll suggested closer to 0.9% of the adult American population may be vegan." (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegan; viewed 15 December 2005). 0.2% of the total 2004 U.S. Census-estimated population of the United States (295,734,134) is equal to 591,468 people.
The Electorate: Voters in the Year 2000 ElectionData based on exit polls given to 13,130 voters on November 5, 2000. Data presented on CNN's website at http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/epolls/US/P000.html.
Helpful Related Link:
Guide to American Political Parties
Sociologists recognize that all individuals have a personal identity which is based on multiple factors. Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, native language, lifestyle, family status, political affiliation, culture, socioeconomic status, and occupation are some of the major factors which contribute to personal and group identity.
Each individual is a part of many groups, some of which they identify with more strongly than others. Even individuals who may be classified similarly in basic demographic tables may differ substantially and have radically different loyalties, opinions, values, etc.
For example, Phongtep and Songha are both second-generation Laotian women living in Fresno, California. Both are education majors at the local community college. Both are single, heterosexual, and come from similar family backgrounds.
Based simply on these demographic labels, people who don't know these Phongtep and Songha might assume that they are very similar, that they are not a diverse pair of people.
Actually, Phongtep and Songha feel they have very little in common.
Songha's father is a leader in the local Laotian community, and Sonhga has been actively involved in registering other Laotian people to vote. She writes a monthly column for the local Laotian newsletter. She is engaged to a Hispanic computer programmer that she met at a rock climbing club. She works part-time at a Thai restaurant owned by her uncle. She is thinking about switching her major to English and going into journalism. She attends church sporadically at a Laotian Catholic parish, mainly because she has many Catholic friends there.
Phongtep considers herself a devout Catholic, and for a time even considered becoming a nun. She is one of the youth leaders her Catholic parish. She does volunteer work at a center for deaf children and loves to listen to reggae, jazz, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She has taken karate classes since she was seven years old and teaches part-time at a dojo. She is highly motivated in her college courses and looks forward to being a full-time P.E. teacher in a high school.
Many other things could be said about Phongtep and Songha which are less frequently associated with demographic tables. Phongtep's favorite author is Zenna Henderson. Songha doesn't enjoy novels but is an avid newspaper reader. Phongtep's little brother is deaf. Songha's mother died of cancer.
People who don't know them might classify them simply as "Laotians" or "college students" or "straights" or "Catholics." Phongtep and Songha belong to some of the same demographic groups, and have some of the same acquaintances, but they feel they have little in common.
Among the many sources of Songha's ideas, hopes, and values, her status as a Laotian-American and her role as a writer may be prominent right now. Phongtep thinks of herself as a Catholic, and also as an athlete and, someday, a teacher.
Both women plan to marry and have children. Both plan to work after college and earn more money than they do at their current part-time jobs. Such changes may change their identities considerably, as their careers or families take on new prominence in their lives, or as the challenges of adulthood heighten their appreciation for their religious or ethnic background. They will be influenced by the jobs they do, their families, new friends and acquaintances, classes they take, and by changes which take place in the general society around them, and in their immediate community.
Population for Selected Ancestry GroupsInternet Release date: February 18, 1998
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
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This document created 13 March 2001. Last modified 14 May 2007.
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