Power of Place Ch. 1, part 2, QS


1. What continents are included in the “World Island”?  Note how most of humanity has lived in that region for the past thousand years.


Eurasia and Africa


2. How did the emergence of national boundaries during the past 500 years make some populations more vulnerable to challenges such as environmental change?


A common adaptation that early humans used in times of environmental stress, for example drought, was migration to areas that could sustain them. The emergence of states and international boundaries during the past 500 years, and especially during the past few decades, has precluded contemporary populations from freely migrating in search of sustenance.



3. What three phases of “modern humanity’s geographic dispersal” does Figure 1.2 show?


1. Emigration of early humans out of Africa and into Eurasia and the Americas; 2. European spread and domination of New World; 3. Population explosion of past century.


4. How does the 5th stage of the Demographic Transition suggest that world population will level off?  What stage is the US in?

In the 5th stage the birth rates are equal to or greater than the death rate. Thus, population either grows extremely slowly, doesn’t grow, or decreases. Because of the migration of young people, the US is in the 4th stage. Our population grows, but not at a high rate.


5. How are migrations of mobals a response to the 4th and 5th stage of the Demographic Transition?

Countries in the 4th and 5th stage often have unmet demand for workers, both low-wage and high wage, immigrants, mobals, fill much of this demand.  The recent (2009-2014) economic crisis in Europe and the US has decreased this demand, and, not surprisingly, immigration by mobals has decreased.


6. What percentage of humans migrated between 1990 and 2005?  3%.  Does this amount surprise you? “Locals far outnumber mobals.”

In a country in the core, the US, which is bordered by a country in the periphery, Mexico, the low percentage of migrants seems surprisingly low.


7. What is the difference between a transnational and an intercultural migrant?

“Transnational” means the migrant has crossed an international border, like the US-Mexico border. “Intercultural” means the migrant has migrated into a culture different from his/her home culture. Not all transnational migrants are intercultural migrants. A Honduran immigrant in the US is a transnational and an intercultural migrant.  A Guatemalan who migrates to Mexico is a transnational, but not and an intercultural migrant.


8. What is the great migration that is occurring in China and throughout non-industrialized countries?

Hundreds of millions of people are internal migrants.  They migrate from rural areas or small towns to major cities in their home countries. The number of internal migrants is much larger than the number of international migrants.


9. What is one strategy that DeBlij mentions that might reduce Mexican migration to the US?

If the Mexican economy grew and the country’s living standards improved, migration to the US would decrease. 


10. How is the US population different from most other members of the “global core”?

 Because of immigration, our population is not as old, nor is it shrinking like other countries in the core.


11. How does Mexico benefit from its mobals?

Mexico receives tens of billions of dollars from its mobals who work in the US annually.  Mexican and Mexican-American families regularly send a portion of their earnings back to family in Mexico. This exchange between family members is targeted aid, which is much less vulnerable to the corruption that often results from country-country foreign aid.


12. How might workers in the global core benefit from the presence of mobals?

Core countries all experienced the “Baby Boom” between 1945 and 1963. Baby Boomers throughout the core are beginning to retire and will exert a huge burden on government budgets as they become eligible for government old age security programs. Those programs are funded by taxes. Baby Boomers tended to have small families, 2-3 children. Thus, a relatively small portion of the population must support a larger one.  Mobals represent potential taxpayers who will support those government programs.


13. Considering the jobs available vs. job seekers in the global periphery and Europe’s demographics, why does it make sense for a citizen from a poor country to become a mobal in Germany?

Until the recent economic collapse (2009-2014), the global core needed workers.  In the periphery there are too few jobs available for the locals.  So, some of them make the wise but difficult decision to migrate to a core country, Germany for example, where there are better opportunities to find work that provides a good salary.


14. How does the ratio of the jobs available vs. job seekers in the global periphery relate to instability and extremism?

DeBlij cites a US study that found that “there are more than 340 candidates for every 100 jobs” in the global periphery. Even after our recent economic crisis, core countries do not face such an imbalance.  The large population of young people without access to a career and means to start and/or support a family represents a major problem for government. What prevents the mass of jobless people from protesting against a society’s institutions if they feel abandoned by those institutions?  To extremist groups who oppose the government, and are looking to swell their numbers, the mass of jobless people is a prime recruiting ground.


15. Who drew much of the world’s political boundaries?  How are they a problem?

European imperial powers drew most of our world’s political boundaries between 1850 and 1950. These boundaries are a problem because they often ignore cultural geography and the geographic distribution of natural resources. In some cases antagonistic groups of people were hemmed into the same country. In other cases, the Kurds for example, a culture was divided by boundaries into several different countries.  Europeans drew boundaries before they had a good sense of the distribution of natural resources. For example, Europeans drew the Middle East’s political boundaries before they knew the distribution of petroleum deposits. Consequently, some countries are oil-rich, while their neighbors are oil-poor.


16. How might a global and a local’s view of a political boundary differ?

A local probably views a boundary as a barrier to his/her becoming a mobal in the global core where they can maximize their earning potential during their working years. A global might not even think about a boundary as anything other than another stamp in his/her passport. Because of their relative wealth and power globals pass freely over boundaries. If they do think of boundaries, they probably view them as necessary walls to keep impoverished populations from swarming into the core.


17. “Whatever the circumstances, the great majority of our planet’s human passengers live their lives in the natural and cultural environs into which they were born.”