Census 2023: Preliminary Random Sample Results — THANK YOU for Gifting Us Your Data!

Since 2002, the Black Rock City (BRC) Census has collected valuable data from Burners that allow us to better understand the makeup of our population on playa. It also lets us track changes in our demographics, expenditures, behaviors, and attitudes from year to year. In 2023, more than 160 hard-working and dedicated volunteers completed more than 543 shifts to support the Census team in collecting data from randomly-selected participants entering the event through Gate Road, the Burner Express buses, and the Black Rock City airport.

Data from the random sample are manually entered by our volunteers on playa, and are used to statistically adjust the results of the post-event BRC Census online survey to represent the population of BRC citizens more accurately. If you attended Burning Man in 2023 and were one of the 7,712 Burners who completed the 2023 BRC Census online survey, thank you for gifting us your data!

2023 Preliminary Results

Our random sample comprises responses from Burners who consented to completing a short eight-question Census survey form with demographic questions collected on playa. Results from this random sample are considered preliminary, and will be validated by the results of the 2023 online survey in a full data report that will be updated in 2024.

As shown in our data dissemination sheet above, the preliminary random sample results indicate the following:

  • There were approximately 12% more males (55%) than females (43%) on playa this year. 2% of respondents indicated they identified as “fluid/both/no gender.”
  • Virgins (participants who had never been to Black Rock City before) were estimated to represent 40% of the random sample population (this percentage may be overstated and is subject to change upon data validation), while 19% had attended only one past Burn, 20% had attended two to four past Burns, and the rest (21%) had attended five or more Burns (not including Regional Events).
  • Only 12% of the random sample population were 29 years or younger, the most common (45%) age range was 30-39, a quarter (25%) were within the 40-49 age group, about 11% were within the 50-59 age group, and the rest (7%) were 60 years or older.
  • Approximately 83% of randomly sampled BRC citizens reside in the US, including a large majority from California (43%), about 5% from Nevada, and 34% from other states. International Burners visited BRC from Canada (3%) and other countries (14%).
  • From a racial and ethnic diversity standpoint, the preliminary data showed a breakdown of 66% White, 10% Hispanic, 7% Asian, 2% Black, and 10% representing other races or ethnicities. The complete data, including follow-up questions about whether Burners identify as people of color, will be available in the full population analysis in 2024.

Compared to last year (2022), it would seem that 2023 participants had similar gender and age distributions, as well as a comparable distribution in place of residence outside of Black Rock City. These observations will be validated upon full analysis of the 2023 Black Rock City Census online survey results.

Census volunteers collecting data from randomly selected vehicles on Gate Road, 2023 (Photo by Ashley Strange)

We hope you enjoyed this preliminary sneak peek of our 2023 Census data, and keep an eye out for our full data report that will be updated in 2024! If you’re curious about previous years’ population analyses, head over to the Census Archive page for more.

Cover image of Census team vehicles in front of the Temple, 2023 (Photo by Ashley Strange)

About the author: Census Team

Census Team

The Census Lab is a volunteer team of information geeks, academic researchers, students, and general data nerds who have surveyed Black Rock City (BRC) residents since 2002.

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