Population projections shed light not just on the expansion or contraction of the overall United States, but also on the trends according to groupings by age and sex. The United States Census Bureau’s online data retrieval tool was used to pull results for Los Angeles County, where it was found that the population is growing significantly older.
Census data for 2000 and 2010 had been previously compiled according to location (Los Angeles County) and characteristics (age and gender) using the simplest possible means of navigating through data.census.gov. To explore further, population estimates were sought for 2015. It seems the Population Estimates Program (PEP) deprecates some results, once the American Community Survey (ACS) results are released as a more authoritative data report. There was PEP data available, but only for 2019, so the more survey-driven ACS data was used instead. Numbers were copy-pasted manually from the CSV file to a Google Sheets file, which is easily exported to a variety of formats including the formatting-friendly XLSX.
Expectedly, the difference from 2010 to 2015 was not as strong as between 2010 and the prior decennial census. However, beyond the shorter time span, there was a substantial softening of the massive drop in younger groupings and massive increase in older groupings. This suggests a stabilizing of birth rates, but it is unclear if it may actually be due to immigrants with families. Interestingly, after a drop in young adults from 2000 to 2010, there was a very large increase expected for young adults from 2010 to 2015. This suggests that there may definitely be rises in international immigration (perhaps with children, compensating for potentially weak birth rates in the county itself) as well as internal immigration (pursuit of job and lifestyle opportunities in an urban megalopolis.
Another consideration is that in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, the megalopolis may have had significantly more pull factors; this seems to align with another large increase projected for pre-retirement adults who may have been forced to seek out new opportunities due to career or homeownership disruptions.
A technical memorandum should summarize the steps taken in preparing a report, with two readerships in mind, one of which is narrower and another which is broader.
The narrower of the two audiences would be fellow researchers. For such researchers, the focus is on reproducibility and ensuring the report can be verified or can be replicated for other communities.
The broader of the two audiences would be stakeholders in general (including but not limited to fellow researchers) who need to ensure auditability of information they use in basing decisions. In this case, they may not try to reproduce every step in a technical memo, but ensuring that a memo was indeed produced and archived (and that the researcher’s credentials are verified) may be enough due diligence on their part when using the memo’s results to issue advice downstream.
With this in mind, preparing a technical memo was fairly straightforward. If it were impossibly difficult to write, that would suggest a serious problem in methodology. In fact, even if a memo described expensive methodologies (e.g. bespoke surveys or focus groups), the memo itself should communicate clearly and succinctly. In the case of research based exclusively on Census data, the memo is describing reports which must be publicly disseminated. I found that no great leap was involved from preparing an Excel spreadsheet, to writing about the steps involved and the observations recorded.
Feedback is an essential part of improvement: here, a focus on reducing word counts and repetition was a direct result of feedback. I found this type of improvement to be challenging, but I sought to communicate as clearly and to-the-point as possible. I found myself using barely one page, while previously I may have struggled to pare down my report from two or three pages.
Importantly, this Census research will be useful in future projects. It dealt with a fairly fundamental type of demographic research: sex and age. Developing the language and data structures was an important step in practicing what I will hopefully be doing many times in the future. In particular, comfort with the Census helps me not only perform Census data in the future, but also recognize shortcomings in other country’s own national statistics. I feel better-equipped to highlight issues when dealing with Iraqi statistics in the future.