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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rising Life Expectancy Can Be Hard on Heirs to Thrones

When death rates were high (read: almost all of human history), an heir to the throne had a reasonable chance of becoming king/queen because the current holder of the title had a good shot at dying at a fairly young age. Things are different now--there are fewer monarchs and life expectancy is much, much higher than it used to be. Queen Elizabeth of the UK is 85 and shows no sign of dying and giving the throne to her son, Prince Charles, who is almost 63. The situation is even worse in Saudi Arabia, however, because that country follows the practice of agnatic seniority in its royal succession. In other words, the king's brothers are favored as successors instead of a king's sons. So it was that the successor to the throne in Saudi Arabia died yesterday at age 80, having waited all these years for his older half-brother, King Abdullah, to die before him. But King Abdullah is 87 and seems healthy even as he recovers from back surgery. Such are the miracles of modern medicine.

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