The Dane County Courthouse, 2004
Location within the U.S. state of Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Nathan Dane|
|• Total||1,238 sq mi (3,210 km2)|
|• Land||1,197 sq mi (3,100 km2)|
|• Water||41 sq mi (110 km2) 3.3%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||390/sq mi (150/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Dane County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 488,075, making it the second-most populous county in Wisconsin. The 2019 estimate places the county's population at 546,695. The county seat is Madison, which is also the state capital.
Dane County is the central county of the Madison, Wisconsin, Metropolitan Statistical Area, as well as the Madison-Janesville-Beloit Combined Statistical Area.
Dane County was formed in 1836 as a territorial county and organized in 1839. It was named after Nathan Dane, a Massachusetts delegate to the Congress of the Confederation who helped carve Wisconsin out of the Northwest Territory. Dane County was settled in the 1840s by settlers from New England.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 1,238 square miles (3,210 km2), of which 1,197 square miles (3,100 km2) is land and 41 square miles (110 km2) (3.3%) is water.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
In 2017, there were 5,891 births, giving a general fertility rate of 51.7 births per 1000 women aged 15–44, the eighth lowest rate out of all 72 Wisconsin counties. Of these, 73 of the births occurred at home, the fifth highest number of home births for Wisconsin counties. 428 of the births were to mothers who held doctorate or professional degrees, more than any other Wisconsin county. These accounted for 7.3% of total births for the county, a higher percent than any other Wisconsin county and more than Ozaukee County which had 5.8% of births to mothers who held doctorate or professional degrees and ranked second.
At the 2010 census there were 488,073 people, 203,750 households, and 116,752 families living in the county. The population density was 394 people per square mile (152/km2). There were 216,022 housing units at an average density of 174 per square mile (67/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 84.7% White, 5.2% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 4.7% Asian, 0.003% Pacific Islander, 2.5% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. 5.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Of the 203,750 households 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 30.5% of households were one person and 7.7% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.95.
The age distribution was 21.7% under the age of 18, 12.8% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% 65 or older. The median age was 34.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.00 males.
At the 2000 census there were 426,526 people, 173,484 households, and 100,794 families living in the county. The population density was 355 people per square mile (137/km2). There were 180,398 housing units at an average density of 150 per square mile (58/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.96% White, 4.00% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 3.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.43% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. 3.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 34.4% were of German, 11.5% Norwegian, 8.9% Irish and 6.0% English ancestry. Of the 173,484 households 29.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.10% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.90% were non-families. 29.40% of households were one person and 7.00% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.97.
The age distribution was 22.60% under the age of 18, 14.30% from 18 to 24, 32.50% from 25 to 44, 21.30% from 45 to 64, and 9.30% 65 or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.00 males.
In 2010, the largest religious groups in Dane County by number of adherents were Catholic at 106,036 adherents, ELCA Lutheran at 48,620 adherents, United Methodist at 9,753 adherents, non-denominational Christian at 7,448 adherents, Evangelical Free at 6,075 adherents, United Church of Christ at 5,035 adherents, Wisconsin Synod Lutheran at 4,214 adherents, Missouri Synod Lutheran at 3,921 adherents, American Baptist at 3,755 adherents, and PC-USA Presbyterian at 3,664 adherents.
As of 2020, the majority of people in Dane County speak American English. However, a small community is known to speak Kölsch or Colognian, a minority language from the German city of Cologne.
Dane County is governed by a county executive and a county board of supervisors. The county executive is elected in a countywide vote. The county executive is Joe Parisi. The board of supervisors consists of 37 members, each elected from single member districts. As the policy-making body of the county government, the board of supervisors enacts county ordinances, levies taxes, and appropriates money for services.
Dane County has supported the Democratic nominee for president all but five times since 1912, and in every election since 1960. In that time, Republicans have only crossed the 40 percent mark four times. Historically, it has been the second-strongest Democratic bastion in the state; only the rural and heavily Native American Menominee County is more Democratic.
Dane County was one of the few counties in the United States to elect a member of the Green Party into county-level office; that official was Leland Pan.
Main article: Administrative divisions of Wisconsin