Let's say I want to count the number of people in 10 different counties that have $x$ characteristic. As each of the 10 counties have different population sizes and areas, I want to scale the count data by population size and area.

Is this the correct formula to use:

$$\frac{\text{count of people in the county with x}}{\text{population size of county} \cdot \text{area of county}}$$

  • $\begingroup$ Could you clarify please what data you are (perhaps hypothetically) starting from and what you want to do? I can read this question two ways: 1) You have complete data on x characteristic in the counties and are asking how to make meaningful comparisons between counties of different sizes; 2) You have sample data on x characteristic and are asking how best to estimate the total number with x in each county. $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2014 at 21:38

1 Answer 1


I don't think that the area of the country is relevant. If you scale by both population size and area, you are effectively double counting (since usually area is roughly proportional to population size). If you are looking for some per capita measure, scaling by population size alone is sufficient. Otherwise, the scaling factors depend on what you're trying to do with your data.


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