The Antiquated Vintage Census of... 2022

The latest deep dive into the seemingly countless types of census tables

Mon 20 March 2023 3 minutes

Let's you and I take a short stroll through the etymological history of the word "vintage." No, I'm not forgetting what blog we're on: this definitely relates to the census.

"Vintage" as a word has roots in Old French, originally and historically used as a term for the harvesting of grapes to then make wine with ("Vin" itself being the French word for wine). Across the centuries to the present the word began to find use outside of wine making and is now also commonly applied to things, people, etc. that are old - or, for a nicer term, of antique status and quality.

So with all this in mind, what exactly does the United States Census Bureau mean when it announces an embargo for the "Vintage 2022 Population Estimates"? How can something be from "2022" and vintage? They themselves state that "Each new series of estimates (referred to as a "vintage") is revised annually beginning with the date of the most recent decennial census to incorporate the latest administrative record data, geographic boundaries, and methodology."

The good news is that you can easily access all vintages that the Census Bureau has conducted here. They come in different varieties from the astonishing "1900-1999" to the more recent and manageable "2020-2022" and the very simple "2022." The unifying factor is creating a clear and consistent table of patterns and growth across specific demographics and timespans.

An table of population estimates across time

You might also see a vintage referred to as a "time series," at least according to their explanations here, though the distinction lies in how a vintage is "an entire time series created with a consistent population starting point and methodology." For cases of other time series, you need only check here.

So when you take all of this into account, it actually makes perfect sense: the trajectory of the word from "wine making" to "description of 1940s record player" is generally regarding a time span; something isn't just vintage because it's aged, but because that aging gives it its quality. A very disciplined way of telling you, "This data is very good!", isn't it?

Header image sourced with permission from orangereebok.

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