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Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, second unified edition, English volume

Frequency distribution

Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, second unified edition, English vol.
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Frequency distribution  (FREQUENCY distribution)

The arrangement of members of a population in various categories or classes of a specified attribute or variable produces a frequency distribution 1, often called a distribution 1 for short. The ratio of the number in the individual group or cell — the absolute frequency 2 or class frequency 2 — to the total number in all groups is called the relative frequency 3 in that group. In demography the terms structure 4 and composition 4 are often used interchangeably to describe the distribution of characteristics such as age, sex, marital status, occupation, etc. Structure is sometimes used in a more restricted sense to describe the distribution of the population according to age and sex only.

  • 4. The term population distribution usually refers to its spatial distribution. However, when used with the name of the characteristic or attribute that is analyzed, the word distribution is a synonym for structure or composition. Thus one finds references to age distribution, age and sex composition, and age and sex structure.