As discussed in yesterday’s post “Why Use Demographic Questions in Surveys?”, demographic questions are an important aspect of any survey. Demographic questions are designed to help survey researchers determine what factors may influence a respondent’s answers, interests, and opinions. Collecting demographic information will enable you to cross-tabulate and compare subgroups to see how responses vary between these groups.
Demographic Survey Question Examples
Age (or birth date)
Age is one of the most common demographic questions asked in surveys. How old a person is will often determine his/her knowledge and experience with the focus of the survey. When administering a survey about consumer electronics, a respondent in his 20s will most likely answer the question differently than a respondent his 70s. Asking a respondent about Age is often one of the first demographic questions asked in a survey.
Q. Age: What is your age?
- Under 12 years old
- 12-17 years old
- 18-24 years old
- 25-34 years old
- 35-44 years old
- 45-54 years old
- 55-64 years old
- 65-74 years old
- 75 years or older
Capturing a respondent’s ethnicity or race is another common demographic question. A person’s ethnicity or culture may influence his/her responses to survey questions. Answers may be influenced by the respondents’ experiences with the survey topic. For example, someone raised in a rural Native American culture may respond to questions about topics such as the environment differently from someone raised in an urban culture.
Q. Ethnicity origin (or Race): Please specify your ethnicity.
- Hispanic or Latino
- Black or African American
- Native American or American Indian
- Asian / Pacific Islander
Asking a respondent what their highest level of education completed is often found on surveys. Respondents who completed a four-year degree at a college or university may answer questions differently than those whose education ended in high school.
Q. Education: What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed? If currently enrolled, highest degree received.
- No schooling completed
- Nursery school to 8th grade
- Some high school, no diploma
- High school graduate, diploma or the equivalent (for example: GED)
- Some college credit, no degree
- Trade/technical/vocational training
- Associate degree
- Bachelor’s degree
- Master’s degree
- Professional degree
- Doctorate degree
Questions about the household composition, including marital status, are often important to survey researchers. Respondents who are married may respond to questions differently than those who are separated or divorced. The number of children in the household and their age ranges may influence the type of television programming watched or the type of snack foods purchased weekly.
Q. Marital Status: What is your marital status?
- Single, never married
- Married or domestic partnership
Professional or Employment Status
Profession or career questions are often asked in demographic surveys. A financial advisor will likely answer questions about money and financial management differently than someone from another profession. Profession questions allow survey researchers to factor in respondents’ experiences or biases when analyzing survey results.
Q. Employment Status: Are you currently…?
- Employed for wages
- Out of work and looking for work
- Out of work but not currently looking for work
- A homemaker
- A student
- Unable to work
Other demographic questions may include religion; household income; number of children in a household; or geographic location. Because some demographic questions are sensitive, always give the respondent the option to refuse to complete a question with an answer option of ‘prefer not to answer.’
Many advanced survey software solutions come with preloaded demographic questions or survey templates. Check with your survey software provider.