How Do You Calculate Population Density?

James Cridland/CC-BY-2.0

Population density tells you how crowded a certain area is, on average. To calculate, you need measurements of area, the population count and a calculator.

  1. Determine the location

    Choose the unit of physical space that is to be used. Population density is a measurement of the number of people per unit area. That unit area can be small, such as a neighborhood, or large, such as a country or continent.

  2. Calculate the area

    A common measurement used when speaking of population density is square mile. Either measure the physical area or locate the length and width from a reliable resource, such as a map.

  3. Find the population count

    Learn the population count present within the boundaries of the area. Depending on the size of the area, you might consult official census records to obtain the population count.

  4. Complete the calculation

    The population number is the numerator, and the area is the denominator. Divide the numerator by the denominator to obtain the population density. This figure frequently is expressed in terms of number of people per square mile, for example.