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.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Do You Know the Way to The Ukraine?

I'm in Tampa for the annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers where I'm presenting a paper on our work in Ghana, and so it was nicely coincidental that my son, Greg Weeks, sent me a link today to an analysis of how imperfect the knowledge is about where Ukraine is. This doesn't affect the country's demographics--they are what they are--but it probably does influence how people respond to events in that country. Here's the link:
Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation. Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least “somewhat closely,” most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground — or even where the ground is.
On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.
Here's the map:

I am reminded here of a study that I used for many years in my spatial statistics class--do you know the way to San Jose? [sorry, I don't have the reference here on my travel laptop] and the farther away from San Jose students were (even in California!), the less close they were to where San Jose, CA actually is. We need to work on this, folks

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