Academic journal article Human Ecology

Nations by the Numbers

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Nations by the Numbers

Article excerpt

Kaley Nelsen '17 and Samantha Primeaux '16 had read about Italy's population crisis, but it took a Cornell in Turin summer course to truly understand the severity of the problem. "Most of the families were much smaller than I expected, usually one or two children," wrote Nelsen, a nutritional sciences student, in a course reflection. "Many of the mothers I saw playing with their children seemed as if they were well into their 30s, as opposed to their 20s, which was not what I had assumed."

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Nelsen, Primeaux, and six other Cornell undergrads witnessed how the nation's fertility rate is creating a society filled with retirees, but with few younger workers to support them. The students traveled abroad as part of the Department of Policy Analysis and Management's class on "Population Dynamics and Policy Debates in Comparative Perspectives," taught by Matthew Hall, Dan Lichter, Sharon Sassler, and Laura Tach, and offered through the Cornell Institute for European Studies.

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"You do all this reading, and have all these discussions, then of course there's the real story," says Sassler, who focused her lectures on young adult transitions--leaving home, managing romantic relationships, raising children, and balancing work and family. …

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