Population Change and Policy

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This week’s readings discuss urban and spatial demography, demography as a spatial science, population distribution and suburbanization, and population policy. The readings describe the significance of looking at demography from a spatial perspective and the impact that spatial demography has over the course of the demographic transition. The readings provide an overview of the foundations of demography and how they continue to evolve throughout the years. They also provide future areas of growth and the implications of new findings on the various areas of demography. The readings bridge the gap between theory and real life implementation of theory (what it looks like in action). They also make a connection between the growth of populations and the growth of the definition of spatial demography. As populations grow and transform over time, spatial demography is transformed and reimagined in new ways.
Urban and spatial demography are important in order to describe the patterns of current population migration and settlement (Fossett 2005; Voss 2007; Guest and Brown 2005; Poston and Bouvier 2010). More and more populations are segregated in urban areas (Fossett 2005; Voss 2007; Guest and Brown 2005; Poston and Bouvier 2010). This is also a result of gentrification, the act of taking over an area once inhabited by one group of people and changing the economic and political structure of that area so that the population displaced is unable to re-inhabit the area. As a result, populations although segregated, are more diverse within the segregation than in historical times. We can see this on the Eastside of San Antonio which was once historically populated by African Americans and is currently populated by more Hispanics and is in the midst of being re-gentrified as a result of government and private industry resources that will require those minority populations to be displaced once again. This has also been the case when housing projects have been demolished (Lincoln Courts on the city’s Westside and Wheatly Courts on the city’s Eastside). Poston and Bouvier (2010) illustrate these changes and the responses to these changes that populations have experienced over time. This is a similar concept to the developed countries response to immigration and the impact that immigrants had on their countries, specifically Germany who would not acknowledge the huge immigrant population that developed in their country (Garip 2012). These are issues that regardless of the perspective that you look at it from, have to be addressed. Looking at the issue of population and the increasing urbanization of population from a spatial perspective just provides a clearer picture of the issues encompassing the problem.
When looking at populations from a spatial demographic perspective, specifically urban populations, the patterns provide new pathways for how populations are viewed, discussed, and how policy is implemented that takes the needs of the population into consideration when creating new policies that will affect said population. Looking at the policies that are in place related to urban populations and asking if and how they are serving these populations is key. Asking the question is only scratching the surface of the issue. Working together to create new solutions to the problems that will benefit urban populations is what is needed in order to view urbanization in a better light.
Voss (2007) makes the point that demography has traditionally focused on spatial demography and shifted to focus on the individual (micro demography). With this shift, the focus is solely on the individual and ignores the substantial environmental changes that are occurring around and impacting the individual. What is needed is a focus on macro and micro demography in order to address the concerns of both the individual and the environment with the idea that if both are improved, both systems can function more effectively. This can be seen in countries that are flourishing (such as more developed countries like Sweden and Germany).
Guest and Brown (2005) focuses on the segregation of spatial demography specifically in the creation of subdivisions as a result of population implosion (Poston and Bouvier 2010). Suburbanization was seen as an answer to increased urbanization of cities. As gentrification increased, those who moved to the surburbs soon found those same elements that they believed they were escaping from were now in the suburbs. Some areas that did not want to see diversity in their neighborhoods developed housing policies that excluded those who were being displaced from city centers with housing vouchers or they chose to move to more rural areas.(Guest and Brown 2005; Poston and Bouvier 2010; Voss 2007; May 2005).
It is important for demographers to move to a more comprehensive view not only of spatial demography but of diverse populations as well (May 2005). When the discussion is regarding new landscapes and includes diverse voices, only then will true effective policy will be implemented that benefits populations as a whole.

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