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The Population Reference Bureau & the Population Bulletin

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  • 0:01 Population Charts
  • 1:14 Population Reference Bureau
  • 3:40 Population Bulletin &…
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

For chart-enthusiasts and professional researchers alike, the Population Reference Bureau is a terrific way to spend an afternoon. Explore this organization and test your understanding about their purpose, mission, and goals with a brief quiz.

Population Charts

The Internet is a dangerous place, especially when you're trying to get work done - it is always way too easy to find distractions. And no, I'm not talking about memes or vines or social media. I'm talking about charts. I love charts! Haven't you ever just gotten lost for hours looking over graphs and charts and visual data? It's easy to do, and I know I'm not the only one out there.

Well, as my fellow chart enthusiasts know, one constant source of visual entertainment is demographics, statistical data about population. Now, before we go any further, let me officially put out this warning: for the visual data-inclined, what I am about to show you is both highly entertaining and highly addicting. You may suffer a loss of productivity in other aspects of life, and please seek professional help if this becomes a real problem. Alright, you ready? Welcome, chart enthusiasts, to the Population Reference Bureau.

Population Reference Bureau

The Population Reference Bureau is a private nonprofit demographics center that organizes statistical data on populations around the world. Founded in 1929, the PRB claims to have a three-fold mission: to inform, empower, and advance, or to provide data, help people make practical use of data, and make sure that policy decisions can be based on accurate research. Their main focuses are reproductive health, fertility, children and families, global health, population and environment, aging, poverty, migration, urbanization, and gender. However, population statistics focused on these topics can also be used by researchers for other purposes as well.

So, remember how I said that this was a potentially dangerous place for those with natural inclinations towards visual data? Well, the PRB publishes much of its research online through seemingly endless charts and graphs, and not only are they colorful, they're interactive. That's right.

Say you want to compare charts on life expectancy between Cambodia and Bulgaria from 1970 to 2013 - well you can do that. (By the way, Bulgarian life expectancy has increased by three years over that period, while Cambodian life expectancy increased by 21 years.) Or what if you want to look at changes in childhood obesity amongst various ethnicities within the United States? Or rates of higher education? Or world population growth by sex? Or mortality within contexts of healthcare? Or fertility rates since 1970? It's all there! There's even a what-if interactive graphic that predicts future trends based on various factors and potential changes.

This information and more can be found on the Population Reference Bureau's World Population Data Sheet, the interactive data source in a given year for 200 different countries. Those charts you just were all from the year 2014 but you can access data from most years after 1970. . Besides the endlessly entertaining World Population Data Sheet, the PRB also maintains a world population clock, which as of July 2015 estimates a world population of about 7.3 billion, and an online database featuring hundreds of visual graphics.

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