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).

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Understanding Latin America

The World Cup semifinals are now set, with two of the teams from Latin America (Brazil and Argentina) and two from Europe (Germany and the Netherlands). Of course, Brazil was "created" in its modern form by immigrants especially from Portugal and Italy, along with the forced relocation of millions of Africans, and the voluntary migration of many Japanese. Argentina was "created" in its modern form by Spanish and Italian immigrants, in particular. So, there is a distinctly European flavor to the World Cup semifinals. Yet Latin America is a very complex place and its demography shows that variability, with very low fertility and mortality in the predominantly European-origin parts of the region, especially places like Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica, whereas fertility and mortality are still above the world average in more indigenous regions such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. There are clear reasons why the recent crisis of mothers and children arriving in the US without documentation are from the latter nations, and not the former.

To help you understand the demographic patterns across time and space, you really need to understand the region and its politics, and there is no better source for that than my son's new book Understanding Latin American Politics. Of course, Greg is not simply my son, he is also Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and he knows whereof he writes. I have my copy--you really should have yours.

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