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A New Method for Computing the Mean Center of Population of the United States

Summary: A New Method for Computing the Mean Center of Population
of the United States
Edward Aboufadel and David Austin
Grand Valley State University
The mean center of population of the United States is a convenient location used to summarize the population
distribution of the United States and how it changes over time. As computed by the U.S. Census Bureau, the
center depends on an arbitrary choice of a map projection. We feel that this location should depend only on the
population distribution and not on any choices made in representing the data of the distribution. This note
discusses a method for computing this location that does not depend on any choices made and describes how the
results of this method differ from those of the Census Bureau. Key Words: center of population, U.S. census,
U.S. Census Bureau.
In its decennial reports, the U.S. Census Bu-
reau computes the mean center of popula-
tion of the United States, a location designed to
summarize the nation's population distribution
and its change over time. This location usually
receives considerable attention in the media (De
Jonge 2001; National Geographic 2002). The
method used by the Bureau to compute this
location first projects points from the three-


Source: Aboufadel, Edward F. - Department of Mathematics, Grand Valley State University


Collections: Multidisciplinary Databases and Resources; Mathematics