This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Case for Deporting Nonimmigrants

If you haven't done so already, you really have to read the only slightly tongue-in-cheek article by Bret Stephens in the NYTimes titled "Only Mass Deportation Can Save America." The basic point is that the sociodemographic characteristics of nonimmigrants are not as oriented toward "Making America Great Again" as are those of immigrants. Here's a taste of what he's saying:
On point after point, America’s nonimmigrants are failing our country. Crime? A study by the Cato Institute notes that nonimmigrants are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal ones.
Educational achievement? Just 17 percent of the finalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search — often called the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of United States-born parents. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, just 9.5 percent of graduate students in electrical engineering were nonimmigrants.
Religious piety — especially of the Christian variety? More illegal immigrants identify as Christian (83 percent) than do Americans (70.6 percent), a fact right-wing immigration restrictionists might ponder as they bemoan declines in church attendance.
Business creation? Nonimmigrants start businesses at half the rate of immigrants, and accounted for fewer than half the companies started in Silicon Valley between 1995 and 2005. Overall, the share of nonimmigrant entrepreneurs fell by more than 10 percentage points between 1995 and 2008, according to a Harvard Business Review study.
Despite the Trump administration rhetoric about undocumented immigrants--which helps fuel resentment of immigrants--a Pew Research analysis shows that 75% of immigrants in the U.S. are legal immigrants. Although Latino immigrants tend to be less well educated than the average nonimmigrant in the U.S., Asian immigrants are considerably better educated than nonimmigrants and they now account for a greater share of immigrants than Latinos. Stephens reminds us that it has been immigrants across every generation that made America great, and that is as true today as it ever was. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Population Overshoot Well Illustrated

Bill Marsh at the NYTimes just put out a very nice set of graphics under the title of "Overpopulation and Underfed: Countries Near a Breaking Point." The data go beyond that, though, to illustrate the fact that the world is in Overshoot mode, whether we want to admit it or not (and most people are overshoot deniers, let's face it). 
Mass migration, starvation, civil unrest: Overpopulation unites all of these. Many nations’ threadbare economies, unable to cope with soaring births, could produce even greater waves of refugees beyond the millions already on the move to neighboring countries or the more prosperous havens of Europe. The population crisis is especially acute in Africa, as Eugene Linden writes in the accompanying article, but it spans the globe, from Central America to Asia.
Curbing poverty in some countries would require unheard of economic growth. Even maintaining the economic status quo, a very low bar, is beyond reach.

In many countries, the population of desperately impoverished has grown to far exceed their total population as of 1970. When conditions worsen, the numbers stricken are staggering, and Malthusian concerns come back with a vengeance.
Take a careful look at this graphic. It shows a set of the world's most impoverished countries by their population in 1970, their population in 2015, and the number (in millions) of the most impoverished in that total population as of 2015. In every case, the number of impoverished people is a very high percentage of a population that has grown typically about three times its size since 1970. This can't be sustained.

The point above about even maintaining the economic status quo in some countries being "beyond reach" is what we mean by overshoot, as I noted a couple of years ago.