Thursday, July 15, 2010

Look to Geocurrents, e.g. on Mexico

One blog that I find endlessly fascinating is Geocurrents, a map-driven blog written mainly by Martin Lewis that makes use of maps to illustrate facts of regional differences in economic development, say, or diverging demographic patterns, or zones of shared (or divergent) cultural affinities that literally need illustration.

Two posts that I think our readers will like, given Scott's Mexico-related posts, examine that country. One post ("Misconceptions About Mexico’s Birth Rate") points out not only that Mexico as a whole is well advanced in its demographic transition--the volume of emigration to the United States has little connection to supposedly astronomical current birth rates--but that different Mexican states are at very different points on the transition.

Another ("Regional Economic Disparities and Migration in Mexico") makes the point that Mexico's economic divisions are at least as notable, GDP per capita in its federal units varying widely, comparing at the highest to Slovenia's (Distrito Federal) and at the lowest to Albania's (Chiapas). (Even in that case, it's still much higher than GDP per capita in most of Central America, a region treated in more recent posts.)

Anyway, go, visit, enjoy, comment.


john said...

Good stuff.

The disparity between Latin American fertility and the fertility of U.S. Latinos is extremely interesting. 2.9 TFR for the latter, while Mexico's is 2.1-2.3, and Puerto Rico (the second-largest source, if I'm not mistaken) is well below replacement? Sounds strange - perhaps migration from Mexico and Central America is coming disproportionately from higher-fertility subpopulations (poorer, more indigenous)? Or does a higher living standard make immigrant Latinos feel they can 'afford' more children than they could back home? Or could the gap be ascribed to non-immigrant Latino populations, who, for some other reason, are at an earlier point in the demographic transition?

I have to say, none of these explanations strikes me as particularly compelling...

Randy McDonald said...

Immigrants often evidence higher fertility than their co-nationals back home; France's experience with migrants from elsewhere in Europe and the Mediterranean basin comes to mind.

They stand out, somehow, either in unrepresentative origins (something that's obvious, at some level) or in being influenced by something in the environment of the place where they end up.

Speaking about culture, it's worth noting that when immigrants leave a country, they're often separated not only by space but in time. Sometimes insulated from their different new society and from their changing old one, it's not impossible that they could end up being more conservative than either group of their co-nationals or their co-ethnics. I'm sure that wouldn't be the only factor.

john said...

Randy, thanks, that's a very good point. I think the conservative colony/periphery vs. the innovative center is a pervasive phenomenon - to get closer to my own expertise, it's something that pops up in linguistics all the time - Icelandic is much closer to Old Norse than Norwegian is, e.g.

Anonymous said...

perhaps migration from Mexico and Central America is coming disproportionately from higher-fertility subpopulations (poorer, more indigenous)?

As I mentioned at Geocurrents, the high-TFR states in southern Mexico tend to be the more heavily Indio parts of the country. From what I can tell, the largest share of Mexican migrants to the United States come from the central Mexican states such as Jalisco and Michoacan.


The Fall of the House of Usher said...

At the riskb of possibly going off-topic: I wonder what the contributors and visitors to Demography matters think the outcome of Iran's new pro-natalist baby payment policy will be. Will this policy survive Ahmadinejad's presidency?

I think that the policy won't stop Iran's downard movement in ferility rate but it could slow it slightly. The cultural norms in Iran may result in very low fertility in the long term as I recall some bloggers here have predicted. Also, the policy seems to have generated controversy within Iran.