Who Are They? Advice from a Demographic Geek

I am self-professed demographic geek. By seventh grade I was already analyzing and interpreting people groups and communities. Nothing like winding down the evening with a few good info-graphics, right? Laugh away — My sociology training left me with an orientation that has been an incredible useful church planting tool. Let me share a few easy and free websites, most little known, that I like to use for planting churches among diverse peoples. Due to blogging limitations, only five tips are listed here, but feel free to comment on which free sites you like to use for demographic research about various peoples. It would be great if someone added sites for Canadian data, too.

This U.S. Census Bureau link first asks for an a state name, then takes site users to a link to select a particular county or city. When those results appear, on the top right side of the page, right above the columns, there is a place to click to “browse data sets”. This allows participants to view information about age, education, race, and specific country of origin. Browse various data sets for more information. The estimates from the American Community Survey offer more kinds of data, but they are 2005-09 estimates. The Census data is more up-to-date, but has fewer kinds of useful information to date.

The Modern Language Association allows participants to either view a language map or to discover language enrollment in courses at U.S. colleges and universities. The map is outdated, and its estimates are really conservative, but when viewed by zip code, it offers an outstanding view of concentrations of peoples from 33 language groups. It is best utilized to identify large areas of population density for various peoples. I often use this tool to take a first look at a community.

Diversity Central is a great site with a lot of good information. Here I will simply suggest their diversity calendar. Special occasions for various peoples and religions are listed in the calendar. It helps me take advantage of particular holidays, holy days and events that provide opportunities for evangelistic encounters and relational interface.

Set a Google Alert for any tag words you like to be delivered to you inbox each day. For example, I set one for Marathi, San Jose, California to discover more about Marathi from India who live in San Jose. I discovered South Asian matrimonial pages that suggest that the Marathi here intermarry among one another, and not simply with others from India, and that they actually have their own library in the Silicon Valley.

This Familypedia link is just one site that lists common surnames by nationality. You can also do a search for sites that just list common or traditional surnames for a particular country, language, religion or people group, and then search for those names in WhitePages.com or another online phone directory. This site is useful despite the declining number of people who have unlisted phone numbers or no landlines.

 

  • cat

    wow this was so helpful linda! i am not a church planter per se but this info can be used to help all of us to be better intercessors of our communities we live in or the ones God has given us a burden for. i am grateful for the many posts on social media where you share specific data with us on many different communities so that we can stay up to date and be better informed of the harvest fields in our midst!!

  • cat

    also sometimes an informal poll of the types of popular restaurants and markets in a particular area can be indicative of demographics.

  • Steve Allen

    Thanks for sharing this Linda! Great resources–I especially liked the MLA site. I love data too, & you are certainly a lovable “geek”! 😉