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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Monday, September 4, 2017

Houston's Demographics Revealed by Hurricane Harvey

Who lives in Houston? A lot of people, to be sure, but until Hurricane Harvey hit, the city's demographics were not a regular topic of conversation, at least not among people with whom I associate. We know Houston as a city that evolved by annexing every piece of land it could and allowing growth to occur without much zoning or regulation. We also know it as a city that has attracted a lot of corporate headquarters. Economic and spatial growth and the creation of jobs have gone together in an almost unique way. An article in today's NYTimes notes that:
This city sprawls over 600 square miles, an area so big that Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Detroit could all fit within it simultaneously. The nine-county Houston metropolitan region, covering more than 10,000 square miles, is almost as large as the entire state of Massachusetts.
Yesterday, an article posted by NBCNews suggests that the population boom in Houston created a bigger disaster there than might otherwise have been the case:
When Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston last week, it hit a city that is much bigger and more diverse than it was in 2000. Those changes made the storm’s impacts bigger and more complicated.

Growing immigrant populations and sprawling construction have remade the region and will likely make rebuilding efforts, which were never going to be easy, even more difficult.

Since 2000, Houston and surrounding Harris County have undergone a population explosion. Harris County has climbed from 3.4 million people to 4.6 million in 2016 — a 35 percent increase. As a point of comparison, the population of the United States as a whole has grown by about 15 percent since 2000.
Much of Harris County’s population is foreign-born — about 1.1 million people. Roughly 730,000 people are not U.S. citizens, according to Census data. Pew Research estimates that more than a half-million people in the Houston metro area are undocumented immigrants.
Along with that growth has come an increasing ethnic diversity in the population, as evidenced by the following graphic:

I conclude Chapter 9-- "The Urban Transition"--by looking at issues of urban sustainability. Houston is clearly putting urban sustainability to the test.

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