The authors of this course find economics and demographics intriguing, but the subjects are often derided as the dismal sciences. Efforts have been made to put technical information in the appendices and to explain the subject areas using examples and graphics. The overall intent of this course is to serve as an introduction to the fields of economics and demographics. Although the quizzes and exams will be limited to the core concepts of the course, we implore you to dig into the subject and if you are interested in the technical information, to read through the appendices or to ask the instructors a question.
A review of the learning objectives notes that the purpose of the economics section is to provide an elemental understanding of core economic concepts and their application in public and private market settings. It takes a broad approach to the subject and includes many important economic concepts, including the interaction of supply and demand, elasticity, public goods and externalities. It also lays the groundwork of economic analysis, including economic base analysis and economic performance analysis. The intent of this section is not to leave the reader with the information to develop economic analysis, but rather to be able to read and understand economic analysis, particularly to assess whether or not the conclusions of a particular analysis are valid.
The relationship between the economy and the demographics of a community are inextricably linked. Economic growth leads to inward migration and an influx of population. The effects of economic growth are very much appreciable, as an influx of population impacts the demand of developed residential and non-residential property and the market equilibrium. An increase in demand leads to an increase in rent (the cost of owning or leasing a property) and an inflation in the asset market valuation of developed property. This leads to more construction and a greater supply of developed property. When more developed property is supplied to the market, rents decrease and equilibrium is reestablished.
This is a dynamic and iterative process, as is identified in the economics section of the course. Over the course of the last century, this has resulted in population shifts away from older industrial areas and to other regions in the west and the south. The demographics section of this course explains the underlying elements of population change, including migration, and explores trends that may affect housing demand. Beyond that, it details the demographic characteristics of a population, including the age and sex structure, race and ethnicity, and other descriptive attributes. It also covers the important aspects of the decennial census and other sources of data that may be used to build a profile of a community.
Last, the demographics section of the course covers population projections. Like the economics section of the course, the intent is not to leave the reader with the ability to develop population projections, but rather an understanding of the differences between each population projection method.