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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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Iraqi Population "Carries On" In the Midst of Continued Violence

Just as the last American troops were leaving Iraq, the civil war in Syria was heating up. Largely for this reason, I think, the continued violence in Iraq has not received a lot of media attention, at least not in the US. Nonetheless, a story in BBC News today reminds us that in 2013 there were nearly 10,000 deaths due to violence in Iraq in a population with roughly the same population size as Canada. So, the BBC asks, why is the population of Iraq continuing to grow rapidly, despite all of these deaths, especially since this is occurring along with a continuing flow of refugees out of the country? Well, this is an easy one, of course, and I hope that you immediately said to yourself--it's the birth rate!
According to Patrick Gerland from the UN's Demographic Estimates and Projections Section, DESA, it's quite simple - there have been many more births than deaths. 
"A lot of families have a relatively large number of children, about four on average, or more." "The end result is that every year you keep adding about 600,000 more people in the country." 
In the past infant mortality was high, but this is no longer the case.
This is, in fact, an almost universal human societal response to disaster--have more kids. It is one of the reasons why fertility is so high throughout sub-Saharan Africa. As life drifts away from modernity and back to the "old days" the motivation to limit fertility seems to subside, in concert of course with the likely disappearance of health programs that provide contraception and other reproductive health services.

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