Baseline achieved -- all 50 states, every race now registered
A new American Secular Census demographic snapshot, our first since February 2012, sees the emergence of a data registry that now covers all 50 states and represents every racial background and gender status offered on our Personal Profile form. This diversity will grow in importance when analysis of other data such as political viewpoints would benefit from a gender, race, age, or similar demographic correlation.
A few remarks about samples, snapshots, and methodology in general
The American Secular Census is a self-selecting Internet survey. Its primary advantages compared with traditional surveys are 1. significantly lower cost, and 2. anonymity. The latter almost certainly reduces response bias, a phenomenon in which participants answer questions in ways they perceive to be pleasing to the questioner -- a non-trivial concern in surveys of socially stigmatized populations. But all that said, a self-selected sample cannot be considered statistically valid without certain compensating methods being applied. More on this later, once the database has reached 10,000 registrations -- but until then, we publish what we call "snapshots:" raw analyses of existing registrations with no information about sample size or margins of error and no attempt to compensate for the bias created by self-selection. The demographic analysis below is such a snapshot -- and although sample size is statistically irrelevant at this stage, we are comfortable saying that the data presented here is based on registrations in the four digit range. [For more background on how and why the American Secular Census was created and the rationale for these snapshots, we encourage you to read a comment on the Pharyngula blog by Census president and developer Mary Ellen Sikes.]
Because of rounding, some of the percentages below will not total 100%. Also, in keeping with our culture of privacy, these results were calculated from values queried directly from database tables which do not contain visible identifying information such as name, username, or e-mail address.
State of residence
The Census has now spread to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and one territory. In our previous demographic snapshot, 15 states were absent from the Census, and registrants from the South were disproportionately represented. Today's more balanced distribution will be useful in tracking geographic correlations with other data.
- California now leads in Census registrations.
- Florida remains in second place.
- Michigan has moved up to third place from a previous top-five position.
Other top states at this time: Missouri, Colorado, and Illinois.
Gender identity, gender status, and sexual orientation
While the registry remains predominantly male and straight, both categories have lost representation since last year. Sexual orientation has experienced the greatest shift, with a fairly pronounced increase among registrants identifying as bisexual. In this analysis, we also report for the first time on gender identity status, a field added to the Personal Profile form after the launch of the Census. Not all registrants have completed this data, so statistics given are based only on those who have.
Age and race
The American Secular Census is open to registrants over the age of 18. More than half are under 40 and more than 3/4 under 50. Thirty-somethings arrived in greatest numbers since our last demographic analysis, but we're also seeing a new (albeit tiny) cohort of registrants in their 80s!
As of our previous snapshot, registrants of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Islander descent were absent from the Census. Although these groups are small minorities at this time, we're happy to report all race categories now accounted for.
The registry is more educated overall in this snapshot, with a shift toward post-graduate degrees. We're also now reporting for the first time on a new category for associate degrees / professional certificates. (The notable decline in registrants choosing high school / GED as their highest educational level can probably be attributed to the new availability of this intermediate choice.)
- 39.2% Bachelors degree ↓ 3.4
- 24.7% High school or GED ↓ 12.8
- 16.6% Masters degree ↑ 3.0
- 11.1% Associate degree or certificate (new category)
- 07.4% Doctorate / post-graduate ↑ 2.3
- 00.7% Grade 11 or lower ↓ 0.4
NEW: Employment and income
72.3% of Census registrants are employed. Another 14.4% are either unemployed students or retired. Still, the 9.7% of respondents who say they are unemployed is higher than the most recent available national average of 7.3% (October 2013, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). We were also surprised to see the high number of respondents reporting an annual personal income under $20,000 (but Census forms do not distinguish between full- and part-time employment).
The Secular Census is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a U.S. address.
- 98% of respondents are citizens.
NEW: Relationship status
More than half (58.5%) of registrants are married, joined in civil union, or cohabiting. But another 40% are single, divorced, separated, or widowed. More than 2 to 1, single registrants who are not in a relationship outnumber those who are.
- 46.3% Married
- 23.7% Single, not in relationship
- 11.5% Cohabiting
- 10.7% Single, in relationship
- 04.0% Divorced
- 01.4% Something not listed here
- 01.2% Legally separated
- 00.7% Civil union
- 00.6% Widowed
NEW: Health and happiness
Atheists seem to be thriving in these two spheres. An impressive 84.2% of registrants say that their health is either good or excellent, and almost 80% describe themselves as happy or very happy. Only 3% rate their health as poor or very poor, and just 4.7% consider themselves unhappy or very unhappy.
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