Demographic structure of society overview | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy


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.

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