More Americans Are Leaving Cities, But Don’t Call It an Urban Exodus


A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, after much speculation about emptied downtowns and the prospect of remote work, the clearest picture yet is emerging about how people moved. There is no urban exodus; perhaps it’s more of an urban shuffle. Despite talk of mass moves to Florida and Texas, data shows most people who did move stayed close to where they came from—although Sun Belt regions that were popular even before the pandemic did see gains.” SOURCE: Bloomberg’s CityLab

A year ago, some of the most dire warnings about COVID-19 related migration pointed to the collapse of major metropolitan centers and an existential threat to urbanization as we know it.  True, high density settlements have been heavily impacted but the fears that New York City would cease to be “The City” were a bit overstated.  

Outside of NYC and the Bay Area, most of the migration inside the United States has been WITHIN metropolitan statistical areas, and usually from the more dense core to the outer fringe.  So edge cities, suburbs, exurbs, and micropolitan areas have seen an increase, but many of these moves were simply accelerated by the pandemic. The interactive charts and maps are what make this article an exceptional teaching resource.    

Questions to Ponder: How has your area’s demographic profile changed during the pandemic?  What are the areas of your state that have been most heavily impacted?  When people move from your county, where do they go?  Where do migrants into your county come from?  What patterns do you see and what explains these patterns?  What push and pull factors influence these choices?  

Tags: migration, USA, population.

Here Comes the COVID-19 Baby Bust

By now, the pandemic has disrupted Americans’ daily lives for nearly as long as a baby typically spends in the womb. This means that many children conceived in mid-March are weeks away from joining us in this disorienting new world, but just as notable are the children who won’t be joining us—the babies who would have been born were it not for the ongoing economic and public-health crises. These missing births, which could end up numbering in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S., will make up what’s been called the ‘COVID baby bust.’ The U.S. could have hundreds of thousands of fewer births next year than it would have in the absence of a pandemic.” SOURCE: The Atlantic

Changes in birth rates can have so many explanations because the the reasons for starting (or not starting) a family can be incredibly personal; part of that complexity requires that we recognize that those choices made by individuals are made within the economic, cultural, and political context of the places that they live. The pandemic has has obviously reshaped people’s plans about so many things in their life–including whether to have children, or when to have children.

GeoEd Tags: declining population, population.

India’s Surging Pollution Problem

As winter approaches each year, a haze of toxic smog envelopes vast swaths of northern India, including the capital New Delhi, forcing authorities to shut schools and restrict the use of private vehicles. Unlike southern parts of the country, most arid regions of northern India, including New Delhi, struggle with dust, a common air pollutant. Environmental experts say New Delhi’s topography hobbles efforts by authorities to stave off the spike in pollution. In recent years, the problem has been exacerbated by the burning of crop residues in Punjab and Haryana states, part of the farm belt that borders New Delhi. Relatively prosperous farmers from Punjab and Haryana, India’s grain bowl, have started using mechanised harvesters to gather the rice crop, partly to overcome the problem of rising labour costs.” SOURCE: Al Jazeera

Mexico City has a reputation for horrible air pollution–and rightfully so–but Delhi’s air pollution is worse and this year it is off the charts. Much of India faces air pollution problems, but northern India, and especially Delhi sees the convergence of urban, agricultural, demographic, and environmental factors to exacerbate the problems. Geographic problems are often intertwined and is a good issue to use a S.P.E.E.D. or E.S.P.N. activity.

GeoEd Tags: urban, agriculture, population, environment, pollution, South Asia, India.

Refugees in a New Home

An Eritrean family reunited in Providence, RI.

Usually when we are talking about refugee topics, we think about it the immediate problems in refugee camps and the conclusion of all these problems will be resettlement of the refugees to a safer place…or so we think.  I love this video for so many reasons, but especially because it concentrates on the many obstacles confronting refugees AFTER they are resettled in a new country.  This documentary, Home Across Lands (FULL 1-hour version available here. The 8-minute version is available on Vimeo) was produced a little over 10 years ago by a Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based film company. This film is an intensely local portrayal of the many difficulties for refugees in a new country. Many haven’t heard about Eritreans refugee camps in Ethiopia, but this article from the Irish Times will give some context on the issue.

Questions to Ponder:

1-Why did so many of the Kumana need to leave Eritrea?    

2-What were the economic difficulties of living in the Shimelba refugee camp?

3-What are some some of the political/legal challenges for refugees in a refugee camp?

3-What are some of the cultural struggles for refugees upon arriving to the United States?

4-What are some of the economic difficulties for refugees upon arriving to the United States?

5-How does the fact of refugees leaving impact their original homeland and it’s culture? How does the fact of refugees arriving to a new place impact their new home?

GeoEd Tags: RhodeIsland, refugees, population, migration.

The water tap at the Shimelba refugee camp

Do we really live longer than our ancestors?

The wonders of modern medicine and nutrition make it easy to believe we enjoy longer lives than at any time in human history, but we may not be that special after all.” SOURCE: BBC

This BBC article explores many of our assumptions about demographic issues before statistics were recorded.  This article especially looks at the notion that our life span has been increasing throughout history.  This would be a good article to get some background information about stage 1 of the demographic transition.  In a nutshell, the article’s premise is that just because life expectancy is increasing, it does not mean that our lifespan is the main reason.  The main reason life expectancy has improved is that more children are surviving their early years not because we have extended the lifespan of elderly so much.

GeoEd Tags: medical, population, statistics, mortality.