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.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Syria Imploding

When Syria's civil war started, the country had 21 million people, and a population growing rapidly because life expectancy in the high 70s was matched with a TFR of 3 children per woman. In addition to the high rate of natural increase, Syria had been a popular place for refugees from the war next door in Iraq. The demographic pressure was bound to bring problems at some time, but as we know that has been overtaken by events. Today's story in the New York Times about internally displaced refugees within Syria--on top of those who have fled the country--is incredibly depressing in terms of future prospects for the country.
Some five million Syrians are now refugees in their own country, many living hand-to-mouth in vacant buildings, schools, mosques, parks and the cramped homes of relatives. Others are trapped in neighborhoods isolated by military blockades, beyond the reach of aid groups. Already desperately short of food and medicine as winter closes in, they could begin to succumb in greater numbers to hunger and exposure, aid workers say.
The long civil war has forced two million Syrians outside the country‘s borders, but more than twice that number face mounting privations at home, and the toll keeps rising. The deepening humanitarian crisis threatens to set the country’s development back decades and dwarfs any aid effort that could conceivably be carried out while the conflict continues, aid workers and analysts say.
It is impossible to contemplate the struggle that is going to be required after conflict ends--whenever that is--to rebuild the country, especially since we can anticipate that one of the first sets of things that will happen be that hospitals will re-open and death rates will mercifully go down, while birth rates may rise, and the return of refugees will build up the demographic pressure, but in a truly beaten-down economy.

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