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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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Migration and the State of the Union

The New York Times published a story today about the latest United Nations estimates of migration around the world. As far as I can tell there was nothing especially timely about the article, but it provides a good reason to bring up the subject.
According to the latest United Nations estimates, 244 million people, or 3.3 percent of the world’s population, live in a country other than the one where they were born. Their ranks are growing at a faster pace than the world population as a whole, with enormous economic, social and demographic repercussions for their native and adopted countries. 
However, they are concentrated in just 20 countries. By far, the most popular destination in 2015 was the United States, followed by Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia. But the ranking should not be viewed as a popularity contest. Saudi Arabia shows up because it hosts an enormous number of migrant workers, not immigrants who resettle, as in the United States.
Indians make up the largest diaspora: 16 million Indians are scattered across the world, which partly reflects the country’s demographic size (1.2 billion) and youth (median age is around 26).
It should be further noted (as I have before) that most of Russia's immigrants are from former republics of the Soviet Union, so it is hard to distinguish that from what would have been a type of internal migration in the "old" days. 

If you listened to President Obama's State of the Union address tonight you will know that he reminded us of the deeply rooted idea that this is a nation of immigrants, no matter how threatened people might feel. He didn't mention that almost every immigrant group to America has faced discrimination of one kind or another, but eventually all groups become part of mainstream society and this why the U.S. is what it is. That same theme was echoed by South Carolina governor Nikki Haley (herself a child of immigrants from India) in her GOP response to the president's address. Given all the anti-immigrant rhetoric that we have been hearing on the presidential campaign trail, I found both of these speeches to be a bit refreshing.

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