How Congress Represents the American Public: Demographic Makeup

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  • 0:01 The Makeup of Congress
  • 1:00 Age, Gender and Race
  • 2:30 Party Makeup
  • 3:13 Education and Religion
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

In this lesson, we will review how the 113th United States Congress represents the demographics of the American people. We will take a closer look at the demographic makeup of Congress and how it relates to those representations in the population.

The Makeup of Congress

As of December 27, 2014, the United States of America has a population of 320,064,285 people. This includes individuals from each of the 50 states and territories. This number does not include those that have immigrated illegally to the country. Representatives are elected from the United States citizenry to represent the people in Congress.

The United States Congress is the national federal legislative body of the United States of America. The main job of Congress is to make the laws for the United States that affect our everyday lives and protect our rights. There are 541 individuals in Congress that come from each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the District of Columbia.

Let's look at the general makeup of Congress based on different characteristics.

Age, Gender and Race

The United States Census defines white people as those having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa. Whites are the majority of the U.S. population - about 72%. African-Americans make up approximately 13% of the population, followed by 5% Asian-American and 1% American Indian.

There is a disparity in these population numbers when compared with those elected to the U.S. Congress. As of 2014, in the House, there are 43 African-Americans, 33 Hispanics, 10 Asian-Americans and 2 American Indians. The remaining 352 individuals are white. In The Senate, there are two African-Americans, four Hispanics, one Asian-American and zero American Indians. The remaining 91 individuals are white.

The disparity in numbers holds true with gender and age, as well. There are 158.6 million females in the United States. Eighty-three women serve in the House and twenty in the Senate. The median age of the citizens in the United States is 36.8 years old. The average age of the members of the House at the beginning of the 113th Congress was 57 years old. The average age of Senators was 62 years old.

Party Makeup

In the United States, 28% of the population considers itself aligned with the Republican Party. Forty-one percent of the citizens consider themselves Independent and twenty-eight percent Democratic. Statistics show that those that consider themselves Independent split down the middle with half leaning more Republican and the other half leaning more Democratic. In the House of Representatives, there are 233 Republicans and 205 Democrats. In the Senate, there are 53 Democrats and 45 Republicans. Therefore, we can see that the representation of the American people generally aligns as far as political party makeup is concerned.

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