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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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Is H7N9 Avian Flu Going to be a Big Killer?

About three weeks ago a report came out indicating that two people in China had died from a new strain of Avian flu. It seemed early then to be too worried, but concern has spread quickly. As of yesterday, more than 100 people in China had been infected and, more crucially from a global perspective, it has now spread out of China into Taiwan. Cases in China have been concentrated on the east coast, as shown in this very cool map produced yesterday. More troubling is the concern over whether China is handling this potential epidemic in the best way possible. Nature News thinks that they are going a good job:
China deserves credit for its rapid response to the outbreaks of H7N9 avian influenza, and its early openness in the reporting and sharing of data.
A bad reputation is difficult to shake. A decade ago, China failed to report early cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and fumbled its initial response to the threat. Today, some commentators view its reaction to H7N9 with mistrust. But from all the evidence so far, China’s response to the virus, which had caused 104 confirmed human cases and 21 deaths asNature went to press, is next to exemplary.
Laurie Garrett, writing for Foreign Policy, is more concerned, although this is largely based on China's very slow and inadequate response to SARS. However, she does include a good quote that is a cautionary tale for everyone:
As the flu czar of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Keiji Fukuda, tersely put it to reporters last week, "Anything can happen. We just don't know."


  1. Greetings Dr Weeks, I'm not sure if this is up you alley, but there is a very interesting publication on the changing nature of fatherhood. It is written from a Catholic point of view, but I think the questions raised are of great import and interest to any scholar of Western cultures. Specifically the issue of the journal is related to "The Eclipse of Fatherhood", which is obviously related to demographics. Anyway, here is the link for the journal:

  2. I don't think that we have to refer to any particular religious belief to agree that children are almost certainly better off growing up with both parents. I discuss this at some length in Chapter 10 of my book. Starting in the 1970s the fraction of babies born to unmarried women began to increase significantly and is now at 41 percent (, and the percentage of children under 18 living with two parents has declined from a little over 85 percent to just under 70 percent: ( This is clearly a generational phenomenon, attributable to changing ideas about marriage and parenthood among both men and women.