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 30, 2012

Demographics of Driving in Texas

The young and the old are the worst drivers in the world. Those are the facts, although to be fair the younger drivers (under 25) have a higher fatality rate than older drivers (70+). This matters, of course, as the age structure changes, as it is in the US. Today's New York Times carries an Op-Ed piece about this issue from the Texas Tribune. It is based largely on an interview with Steven Murdock, former Director of the US Census Bureau and current State Demographer of the State of Texas, while also teaching at Rice University. In Texas, the population is growing, and it is aging at the same time.
And the fastest growth of any age group will be the gray-hairs — drivers 65 or older. Depending on the growth model for Texas — what you think migration will do, whether you think the state will be as magnetic as it has been for the last two decades — the over-65 driving population will grow by anywhere from 218 percent to 268 percent between 2005 and 2040.

Put another way, a population that numbered about 1.8 million in Texas in 2005 will grow to somewhere between 5.7 million and 6.6 million in 2040.
That group is part of a bigger issue: if the state continues to grow like it has, we will need more roads. “We’re adding lots of bodies to roads that are already congested,” Dr. Murdock said.
Luckily for the fatality rate, it seems, a disproportionate share of those added bodies will be aging Baby Boomers, rather than young people, but the population projections do suggest that a state that has a strong ethos of keeping the government out of things may have to get the government involved to keep the state from strangling on its traffic.

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