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: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Time For Political Demography is Now

We leave in the morning for Charlotte and then Charleston, where my son, Greg, and I will be presenting our research on the effects of the age structure on socialism in Latin America at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies. Greg is a past president of the organization and also edits the organization's journal--The Latin Americanist. The topic is clearly about political demography (although we define socialism in terms of an economic system, not a political system per se). Greg and I also had a political demography focus in our co-authored book on Irresistible Forces: Latin American Migration to the United States and Its Effects on the South, and Debbie Fugate and I had a distinctly political demography focus in our book on The Youth Bulge.

So, with all that as prelude, you won't be surprised that I was very pleased by a blog post suggesting that political demography is coming of age. The report was inspired by sessions at this year's International Studies Association, which opened up a new section on political demography just a few short years ago.
“Political demography is a discipline whose time has come,” said Rob Odell of the National Intelligence Council at a gathering of demographers and researchers in New Orleans. “You can sense this inherent dissatisfaction” with a lot of analytical and predictive tools in international relations, he said, and “political demography provides policymakers a way to think about long-term trends.”
The Arab Spring, with its images of youthful mass protest, has helped popularize demographic terms, like “youth bulge.” And in Europe and East Asia, fears over aging – its effects on welfare, labor force, even military power – are routinely addressed by senior policymakers, said George Mason University’s Jack A. Goldstone. “Why? Because they’re concerned about demographic decline.” 
Besides the fundamental rights-based argument for gender equality, political demography also illuminates a colder calculus. “We can say, ‘look at how impossible it is to get to a modern nation state without doing these things for women,’” said Wilson Center Global Fellow Richard Cincotta, referring to things like access to education, health care, and agency for women. “Political demography screams these things.”
There are very few courses on political demography in universities, so it is not a field that has a lot of visibility yet. The insights from demography are just too important to ignore, however, and so we have to keep working on increasing awareness among policy-makers, in particular. Indeed, that is the exact point of the paper that Greg and I will be presenting in Charleston.

1 comment:

  1. Demography and the Middle East: http://theconversation.com/rising-tide-of-demographic-change-spells-trouble-across-middle-east-36598

    I especially am interested in the question of Kurds in Turkey.

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