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.

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Demography is Connected to Nearly Everything: Evidence From the National Academy of Sciences

I often make the point in my text, and to students directly, that demography is connected to nearly everything (yes, I really think EVERYTHING, but I more cautiously say "nearly" everything!). Some evidence of that came today from the National Academies Press (NAP), the publication arm of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). They created a list of the 15 most downloaded reports (for free--you can download all of their reports for free) of 2015. Each of them has some connection to demographic trends and issues in the world.

The top two have to do with education--especially teaching students to be better scientists. These are the kinds of things that improve a person's human capital and increase their chance of a successful socioeconomic outcome in life. 

The third one is perhaps least related to demography in a substantive way, although closely related to my own career--enhancing the effectiveness of team science. Teams are important in terms of sharing ideas and resources, and are enormously important in the advancement of science, which has huge ramifications for everything that goes on in human society.

Numbers four through seven, nine, thirteen, and fourteen are related to the health and mortality transition, focusing especially on health care and successful aging, as well as a key volume on the food system.

Numbers eight, eleven, and twelve focus on environmental issues--concerns that have arisen only because of the combination of population growth and higher standards of living.

Number ten examines the interesting issue of how we make sure that we have a highly qualified workforce to guide the development of children in their earliest years of life. Can we afford to leave this important work to amateurs?

Finally, number fifteen tackles the issue of putting communities back together after disaster. This is a subject not unrelated to an NAS report in which I was involved a few years ago.

A great way to start the new year...Happy reading! 

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