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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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Population--the Long View

It is almost certainly not a coincidence that on the eve of this year's annual meeting of the Population Association of America here in San Diego, the journal Population Studies has issued a special issue on "Population--the Long View." You can download for free the introductory article by Oxford demographers David Coleman, Stuart Basten, and Francesco Billari. You will need a subscription to read the other articles. Thus far I have read only the lengthy intro article, the point of which is to remind demographers that our current fascination with micro-level studies--aided by big data and massive computing power--needs to be balanced with the bigger view--the long view--of what population growth and change means for the world. If you have read the 12th edition of my text--(and, of course, I hope you have :) --you will not find a lot here that is new, but obviously it is stuff that I think is very important!

Here are a couple of teasers, the topics of which you will recognize from some of my recent blog posts:
As Striessnig and Lutz comment in their paper here, ‘ Hardly any challenges in the twenty-first century are greater than those arising from the interaction of demographic change and climate change’ . However, their paper is refreshingly optimistic. It points to the prospect of at least a future brighter than expected both in respect ofresource pressures and in terms of our ability to meet global climate challenges and other shocks and disasters. It has already been shown that when educational attainment is incorporated into population projections, the scenarios of future population size and growth, health, and wealth appear to be more favourable than scenarios that ignore the role of education...Enhanced knowledge, skills, and competencies from education improve the adaptive capacity of populations.
And this:
The paper by Basten and Jiang, however, presents a big challenge to this notion, from another part of the modern world. Chinese policymakers and demographic observers had expected that fertility would revive to a two-child or higher standard, once restrictions to a single child were lifted. So far, that expectation seems to have been confounded. Instead, a one-child norm, both as ideal and as performance target, may be becoming established in urban China where legal constraints are released. Who said that demography was not an experimental science? Here is an experiment on the greatest possible scale in urban China, the result of which challenges the assumption of some kind of stable ‘ natural’ two-child replacement norm.
And there's lots more--enjoy. 


  1. THANKS!! I will certainly read the main article. If you have access to the other articles, and one or two of them are really good, please mention it here. Or send an email. I can't justify paying for the whole journal access, but reprints for individual papers are OK!!

    I think it is VERY important to look at a variety of viewpoints for the "long view" on the population explosion as we had to 2050. It is definitely good to try to find a balanced answer!!

    Pete, Redondo Beach, CA

    1. Yes, I will look at the other articles over the next few days and comment on them.