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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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Haiti Tries to Turn the Tide on the Urban Transition

In the wake of last year's devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is experimenting with de-urbanization--trying to get people out of the city and back into the countryside. At the time of the earthquake the city was home to nearly a third of the country's 10 million people, but as the Associated Press story about this notes, you have to understand why Port-au-Prince was so crowded in order to appreciate why this might just work.

Part of the reason was that Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, the late dictator, shut down ports and tore up roads to undermine his opponents in the countryside. And in the 1980s, new factories lured farmers to the city from fields where they were struggling to survive.
When the magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010, some 300,000 people died, according to government figures. Densely packed neighborhoods became death traps. Whole neighborhoods were flattened. Many in Haiti have speculated that the death toll would have been lower had there been jobs and basic services in the countryside to keep people there.
Of course, trying to accomplish anything in one of the world's poorest and most crowded countries is not going to be easy.

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