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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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Demographic Divide in Arizona

Arizona has become notorious for its anti-immigrant attitude and legislation. However, The Economist notes that there is a real divide in Arizona on this issue and it cuts along geographic, and especially demographic lines. Maricopa County, in the middle of the state and where Phoenix is located, has one set of demographics, and is seen as being very different from Pima County, in the southern part of the state (albeit contiguous to Maricopa County) and where Tucson is located.

Midwestern snowbirds and others who flooded into Arizona mainly settled in Maricopa, making it politically dominant and distinct.
The differences start with the aesthetic. Middle-class houses in Phoenix tend to have lawns, whereas Tucson’s mostly have desert landscaping, with artful cacti and such. Thomas Volgy, a politics professor at the University of Arizona and former mayor of Tucson, says that Maricopans want “to recreate Michigan”, whereas people in Pima accept that they live in a desert and use water responsibly.
Tucson is at heart a college town, the home of the state’s flagship university. To the extent that intellectuals (such as Mr Volgy) moved to Arizona, they favoured Tucson. Pima County also has an old and rooted Hispanic community. By contrast, Maricopa is a largely white society with more recent Mexican immigrants. And whereas Maricopa is inland, Pima is on the border, which has always made its debate about immigration “more nuanced” than Maricopa’s, according to Mr Volgy.
All of this is wrapped up in a movement calling for Pima and perhaps also Santa Cruz Counties in Arizona to secede from Arizona and create a new state called "Baja Arizona."

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