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Demographic structure of society overview

Video transcript
Voiceover: There's a lot to consider when looking at the demographic structure of society. Overall, the demographic structure is the different ways you can look at a population of people. The different groups you can break a society into so that you can look at trends and statistics. You can compare the statistics like death rates or education levels for different age groups or different races and ethnicities or the statistics of the people who are immigrant compared to people who are native born. Or even people of different sexes, genders, or sexual orientations. All of these factors affect the demographics of a society. When we compare different groups, we look at the statistics for jobs or income or education or quality of life, access to healthcare, we split the population into groups and compare their lives. And beyond the group, all of these factors affect the individual. Their health, their education, job opportunities, discrimination, expectations. But remember, these are just trends. There are always exceptions to every trend. When it comes to age, job, and health opportunities can be different depending on how old you are. Populations are broken down into different cohorts based on their age. The people of each generation all live through similar events and similar time periods that affected their lives. Elderly people have more difficulty getting health insurance because they are more likely to get sick or to have pre-existing conditions. They're more likely to need the services of health care facilities than younger people. The number of people over the age of 64 is rapidly growing as the baby boom population gets older. By 2025, the percentage of people over 64 in North America is expected to double. This means more strain on the healthcare system. But the standard quality of life has gotten better over the years. So people are living healthy lives longer and are able to work for more years to continue contributing to the economy, and potentially relieve some of the strain on society. There are many theories as to the social significance of aging. Aging has become more than just a number for many people which has forced the social assumptions of age to change. Perhaps age regulates the behavior of different generational cohorts or groups of people. You also have to consider how a loss of activity affects the older population and how they can replace that social interaction. Or perhaps the older generation is separating from society so they can have more time for self-reflection. Or maybe they're making decisions that preserve that same basic structure of their lives that they have always lived. No matter the theory, improvements in global health have enabled the older generation to continue to be a valuable resource in society. When looking at statistics, we more commonly categorize people into races and ethnicities. Race is a social construction that puts people into groups based on observed or perceived differences in physical traits. Racial formation theory looks at the economic, social, and political factors that result in socially constructed races. In the United States we group people into white, Latin American, African American, and Asian groups. In other countries there are different divisions of people based on other characteristics. For example, in South America what we would consider Latin American is broken down into many other groups. Ethnicity is also socially defined, but instead groups people based on a shared language, or history, or nationality. The definitions of specific racial and ethnic groups can change over time as the values of a society changes. And sometimes racial identities can actually be ascribed to a minority group. A process known as racialization. There are statistical differences between different racial and ethnic groups. Racial and ethnic minorities, except for Asian Americans, statistically tend to have bigger families, less access to healthcare, higher incarceration rates, lower paying jobs, and higher school dropout rates. Most of these differences come from the differences in education and easy opportunities afforded to different racial and ethnic groups. Immigrants often face discrimination in their host countries. Discrimination is the unjust treatment of a category of people simply because they belong to that category. Though some discrimination is based on race or ethnicity, the immigration process in many countries is easier for some ethnicities than it is for others. Much of the discrimination is based on an innate fear of anything different. The citizens of the host country fear the change that immigrants bring with them. Sometimes immigrants can over tax social services in certain areas if too many people move at the same time, and sometimes they can cause job shortages. But they can also help the host country by providing labor in fields the native citizens don't want to do. People who immigrate looking for better jobs and better lives are often not as picky as the native citizens. Most of the people moving to a different country are immigrating into the industrialized countries of North America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The fear of something different can cause discrimination between men and women or discrimination of people's lives in general. Sex, gender, and sexual orientation are all an essential part of any society. Sex is a biological determination of male or female. Though the sexual binary falls apart a bit when it comes to intersex people who could have one, three, or more sex chromosomes instead of the usual two. Gender on the other hand, is a social construction of how a person of a specific sex should behave. Every person has the gender they identify as and then the gender they present to society. There are assumed roles and attitudes that men and women have in society. And when people don't follow those rules they get noticed. It is expected for females to identify as women and behave as women, and the same is true for males acting as men. Sexual orientation is also a socially constructed grouping. There are two parts of sexual orientation. The gender you attracted to, and the gender you have sex with. Traditionally, men are supposed to be attracted to women, and women are supposed to be attracted to men. But people in today's society do not always follow those so-called rules, sparking fear in many people. It is often this fear of change that causes discrimination of minority groups. A minority group makes up less than half of the total population. And more importantly, it is treated differently because of some physical or cultural characteristic. Ironically, even though women make up more than half the population numbers wise, they are treated as a minority with lower paying jobs and lower expectations than men. Men however, don't have it easy either. Because they have a very narrow definition of masculinity that they are allowed to be in society. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is also abundant in jobs and healthcare. Socially constructed expectations of whom a person should be limits every individual by prohibiting certain behaviors or ways of life. Demographic structures exist to provide a frame work from which we can view a society and observe the trends that shape individuals and society itself.