BRC Census Population Analysis, 2013-2018

2018 Highlights

The demographics of Black Rock City’s residents have remained relatively stable since 2013. There are, however, some ways in which the 2018 population differed from past years. As always, in addition to the questions asked year after year, some new questions were introduced to the online survey in 2018. This page highlights some interesting changes observed in the 2018 data, but it is not a comprehensive list of all changes observed or all new questions introduced.

The lowest percentage of Burning Man virgins since the methodology change in 2013 was observed in 2018. While the percentage of Burning Man virgins has fluctuated over the past few years, there has been no clear trend. Prior to 2018, the lowest percentage of virgins since 2013 was 35.1% (+/- 1.0%) in 2014 and the highest was 39.3% (+/- 1.4%) in 2016. In 2018, the percentage of virgins dropped to 31.7% (+/- 1.2%). A corresponding increase was observed in the percentage of "long-time" Burners: 19.1% (+/- 0.9%) of BRC's 2018 population reported that eight or more years had passed since their first Burn, compared to 14.7% (+/- 0.7%), 12.9% (+/- 0.8%), 15.0% (+/- 0.8%), 19.2% (+/- 0.9%), and 14.4% (+/- 0.7%) in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 respectively. Unsurprisingly, "number of Burns" and "years since first Burn" appear to be correlated; for example, 2014 and 2018, the two years with the lowest percentage of virgins, also had the highest percentage of participants whose first Burn had been eight or more years ago.

In 2018 the Black Rock City Census also observed some small changes in participant age. The median age was 35 in 2018, an increase from 33 (in 2013 and 2015) and 34 (in 2014, 2016, and 2017). While many age groups have remained relatively static within that period of time, the percentage of participants in the 20-24 years old range more than halved from 8.8% (+/- .06) in 2013 to 3.9% (+/- 0.6%) in 2018. This decrease corresponds with the observed increase in median age. The percentage of the population aged 70+ has also changed over the years, more than doubling from 0.6% (+/- 0.2%) in 2013 to 1.4% (+/- 0.2%), though it should be noted that (even with the relative increase) this group makes up a relatively small proportion of the city.

Participant ethnicity has also seen some changes since 2013. Most notably, a steady decrease in participants reporting their ethnicity as "White/Caucasian (non-Hispanic)," from a high of 82.9% (+/- 0.8%) in 2013 to a low of 76.6% (+/- 1.0) in 2018, was observed. One factor in this was the addition of a new "Middle Eastern or North African" category first added to the online survey in 2017. While other ethnicity groups continue to make up a relatively small percentage of the BRC population, several groups have increased in representation since 2013.

From 2014 to 2017, Census data showed a steady decrease in the percentage of BRC residents who live in the United States of America when not in Black Rock City, from 84.9% (+/- 0.8%) in 2014 to 76.5% (+/- 1.0%) in 2017. In 2018 that trend reversed somewhat, with the percentage of BRC residents from the United States rising again to 81.0% (+/- 1.0%). This could be the start of a new trend, or an anomaly occurring in 2018; 2019 results (when available) should help to resolve this uncertainty. Likely related, differences have also been observed in native language (the first language learned and still spoken) among residents of BRC. The percentage of native English speakers in BRC decreased from 87.7% (+/- 0.6%) in 2013 down to 77.5% (+/- 1.0%) in 2017, increasing to 78.1% (+/- 1.0%) in 2018.

Also notable, a few new questions were introduced in the 2018 online survey, including questions about creative self-identification (such as artist, maker, craftsperson, etc.) and compensation for creative works. The 2018 online survey also added some additional, more detailed questions about whether Burning Man participants felt inspired to learn or practice skills after attending Burning Man.

Again, while this page highlights some interesting changes observed in the 2018 data it is not a comprehensive list of all changes observed. For a full review of all data collected we recommend reviewing the report page by page. The "Next" link at the bottom of each page leads to the next sequential page in the report. For information about specific data points beyond what is referenced on this page, use the navigation menu to explore additional datasets.

Next: Method and Weighting Procedures: Methodology Overview, Weighting Variables, Weighted Results: an Example, Data Collection via Online Survey