204291 Imagined geographies of Caribbean overpopulation: Statistical biases and ideological contentions

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:10 PM

Luis Alberto Aviles, PhD, MPH , Sociology, University of Puerto Rico, Boqueron, PR
One of the main justifications for population policy is the recurrent fear of overpopulation. Almost every single island in the Caribbean has been identified as overpopulated by U.S. generals, government officials, journalists, end-of –poverty economists, or public health researchers. Claims of overpopulation have resulted in a forecast of a “standing room only island,” Barbados, an assertion that is mathematically incorrect and has been repeated ever since. Most often, claims of overpopulation are based on an island high population density, which are the result of a statistical artifice. This presentation identifies the mathematical errors and statistical biases of such claims of Caribbean overpopulation. It also analyzes these images of overpopulation using Edward Said's concept of imaginary geography, which refers to the demarcation and description of a foreign area, in ways in which distance and difference are overstated, portraying its inhabitants as a members of an inferior race. The imagined geographies of overpopulation engendered identities and inspire colonial policy. Demographers, public health researchers, and policy makers should be critical of claims of overpopulation. Assertions of Caribbean overpopulation constitute an imagined geography that requires some sort of mathematical expression as a justification of an ideological contention.

Learning Objectives:
1 – To identify the statistical biases of a claim of island overpopulation based on population density. 2 – To explain the statistical bias of a forecast of a “standing room only island.” 3 – To describe two characteristics of the concept of imaginary geography. 4 – To explain why the overpopulated Caribbean island fits the concept of an imaginary geography.

Keywords: Population, Statistics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD in health policy, Professor of Sociology, Editor-in-Chief DataCritica: International Journal of Critical Statistics
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.