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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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Congressional Demographics and the Future of Cities

As I commented last night, everyone has run with the idea that immigration reform was the main issue leading to Eric Cantor's Republican primary defeat last night. Cantor's opponent, Dave Brat, was able to use the issue to get people to the polls to vote for him. As my son, Greg Weeks, discussed in his blog post today, Brat's ideas about immigration and the economy are a little fuzzy, given that Brat is an economics professor. But that doesn't matter to people who oppose immigration at all costs. Despite polls suggesting that a majority of people in Virginia's 7th congressional district are generally in favor of immigration reform, it is being against immigration reform that will drive people to the polls to vote, not being for it.

The other problem that Eric Cantor seemed to have, according to a variety of news stories, is that he wasn't well liked by his constituents. His district is a largely suburban and rural region, with some suburbs of Richmond at its very edge. But Cantor was a big player in Washington, DC, and that didn't seem to translate well into his own district. I thought of that as I was reading an article that Justin Stoler pointed me to on the value of cities as places where innovation takes place--they are obviously what the future is all about. The great takeaway line from the story is this: "I began wondering whether, at this point, choosing to live outside a major city is tantamount to opting to live in the past." Well, yes, I think this is probably a true statement, and it may play out in the general election in the 7th District. We have to remember that Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor in last night's primary, and he is famous for that, but the question is whether the rural people or the city people in that district will show up at the polls in November--will it be a vote for the past or the future?


  1. Dear Prof,

    I would like to tske issue with you confidence in the centrality of cities for the future of this nation. I am thinking of the largescale urban depopulation that took place in the early Middle Ages as the infrastructure that provided food for folks in Rome (and other cities) broke down and people relocated to places where they could grow their own food in the rural areas. Ergo, Rome, population 5,000. I do think that infrastructure will eventually break down and something like the disintegration of the Roman Empire c. 5th-210th C. will take place. In other words, I do not think that the hegemony off the city is inevitable, or even likely, around c. 2100, say.

    1. Actually, you make my point. If we are unable to maintain the infrastructure for cities--and I agree that this is an "if" rather than a certainty--we will go back to the past. If that happens, the future will be back to the past, if you see what I mean.