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:

Friday, January 19, 2018

African Immigration is a Good Thing for America

This is a day when the government is threatened by a shutdown because Republicans and Democrats in Congress cannot agree about the fate of "dreamers'" in the DACA program--people brought to the U.S. without documents by their parents, but who have grown up in this country, educated in this country, and are contributing economically to this country. And this is a week when the entire world shuddered at the U.S. president allegedly wondering why we would want immigrants from "s---hole" countries like Haiti and most African nations.

The actual people who have migrated to the U.S. from these countries gives the lie to Trump's derogatory characterization. Thanks to my son, Greg Weeks (Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte) for pointing me to an article yesterday in the Washington Post co-authored by one of his departmental colleagues, Beth Whitaker. She and Christopher Day have used census and other data to draw the following conclusions about immigrants from Africa:
But African immigrants are more educated, on average, than U.S.-born Americans. According to estimates for 2012 to 2016 from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, 41.5 percent of African-born immigrants have bachelor’s, graduate or professional degrees — a higher percentage than immigrants from Europe (40.4 percent) or Latin America (12.4 percent), but lower than those from Asia (50.3 percent). Just 30.5 percent of U.S.-born individuals have such degrees.
Education levels are even higher among immigrants from specific African countries that are top sources of migration to the United States: 63.1 percent of immigrants from Egypt, 59.5 percent from Nigeria and 50.7 percent from Kenya have bachelor’s degrees or higher. In comparison, 43.1 percent of immigrants from Norway have similar degrees.
Whitaker and Day also provide an overview of the immigrant diversity program, the existence of which seems to have prompted Trump's comments. It is aimed at providing opportunities for immigration from countries that were essentially left out of the 1965 Immigration Act, it is limited to 50,000 per year, and it is not a lottery. There are clear stipulations about education and occupational experience, and there is a substantial vetting process before anyone receives a visa to migrate to the U.S.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Supreme Court Lets North Carolina Keep its Gerrymandered Districts For Now

It was only a few days ago that I last blogged about gerrymandering. Things seemed to be going in the right direction in terms of court decisions to slow down the blatantly political redistricting that has been going on over the past several years throughout the country. This evening, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has put a hold on a lower court decision that would have required North Carolina to redraw its Congressional District boundaries prior to this year's election. The Washington Post has the early story:
The Supreme Court said Thursday night that North Carolina does not immediately have to redraw its congressional district maps, meaning the 2018 elections will be held in districts that a lower court found unconstitutional.
The court granted a request from North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders to put the lower court’s ruling on hold. The decision was not unexpected, because generally, the Supreme Court is reluctant to require the drawing of new districts before it has had a chance to review a lower court’s ruling that such an action is warranted.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would not have granted the request.
So we now have to wait to see whether in fact the lower court ruling will eventually be upheld. In general, though, this does seem like a good sign of things to come. I sincerely hope that I am wrong about that.