I got back from the PAA meetings in Dallas today. I really think that PAA is an incredible organization, even down to the way that they plan and execute the meetings.1 For example, I think that the submission process is incredibly smooth and the papers on the panels tend to speak very well to one another. Even down to the fact that the organization developed an iPhone app (and a Kindle app) that made navigating the meeting tremendously easy (I believe that Germán Rodríguez deserves the credit for the development of the submission website and the iPhone app -- kudos to him!). Beyond the execution, however, the actual meeting is always interesting in the papers that are presented and the people who come. It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones while down there.
A couple of the highlights from this meeting were hearing a lot more about data from the American Community Survey being used for analysis. I went to a couple of presentations that were using the ACS to measure racial and ethnic fertility differentials. Also, I am particularly interested in the direction that neighborhood research is taking. I was lucky enough to serve as a discussant for a great panel of papers on neighborhood poverty and inequality as well as be an author on a paper in a panel about data and measurement methods.
There were a couple of patterns that I saw emerging from the meeting within my areas of interest. First, there was a great deal of interest in comparing the characteristics of new immigrant destinations as well as the fertility patterns of Latinos upon entering the United States. I think that after the Census data are released in the next year, there is going to be a great deal more interest in the patterns of Latino settlement and immigration -- particularly as battles over redistricting begin. Second, in a really positive development, I think that there is a greater concern about neighborhood change rather than simply measuring static states of neighborhood environments. Much of my dissertation focused on this question, so it is possible that I found what I was looking for; but, my impression was that the topic was much more prevalent this year than in years past.
I'm already looking forward to the meeting in D.C. next year. For those who have any interest in questions about population-level disparities or population processes, I would totally recommend checking the conference out.
Dallas was not as bad as I imagined it...though I can't say that there aren't a whole lot of places that I would rather have a conference. ↩