Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No, Muslims are not taking over Europe by having lots of babies

Have I mentioned how annoying the current US Islamophobia is? Of course, not everyone is Islamophobic,but when it does show up it's frustrating.

Last year this video was forwarded around by a bunch of friends, and it made me cringe and roll my eyes.

Well, as the office researcher, I was asked yesterday to look up a variety of things, and one of those things was the information in this video. Someone is doing a talk about demographic changes around the world and they remembered seeing this video and wanted me to look into it. I internally groaned, because the message of the video is so fear-mongering and I did not want to play any part in spreading this message. And even if it IS true, please, once again lets not play victim here.

Ahh... but this is when I love my job. As a researcher, I get to look for the truth, debunk bad sources, and find out all sorts of interesting things.

1. The video is almost completely unsourced, misquoted, and mostly untrue. Yay for debunking the ridiculous.

2. It's true that most population growth in the EU is from immigration and the the birth rate in Europe has fallen. It IS true that there are about 52 million Muslims in Europe, somewhere around 4-5% of the population. It IS true that the Muslim population in Europe is growing and will continue to grow, though not at the rates suggested in the video. None of that was surprising to me, and it's true that Europe has to continue to wrestle with their increasing cultural diversity.

Hawwa'3. Here's where it got interesting. Actually, the birth rate in most Muslim countries is falling, and the only places where it remains significantly high is Yemen and the Palestinian Territories. I wonder why this is? The birth rate among Muslim immigrants to Europe is dropping, which is typical because the birth rate among all immigrants to wealthier countries drops in a generation as they adjust to the different culture and lifestyle standards.

4. The birth rate for Northern Europe and the US is actually on the rise, and not just because of immigration. I wonder why that is? However, the birth rate in Eastern Europe is extremely low (not even at replacement level), and in Russia they're losing population as quickly as countries in the middle of a war. The birth rate is rising most dramatically in Sub-Saharan Africa. It's rising so quickly that unless something changes (war, disease, famine, etc.), it will " by the end of this century ...be home to one-third of the human race."

5. Given the extreme population growth in sub-Saharan Africa, it will soon be the demographic center of Islam. However, the population is also significantly Christian, and if the growth continues it will have as many Christians as South America, and by 2050 Africa will hold most of the world's Christians as well. This is fascinating and won't necessarily happen as currently demographics reflect, but if it DOES I sure hope those Christians and Muslims find a way to live in peace, or the place is going to be a tinderbox of religious hostility.

6. Also, when you combine the one-child policy of China with their rising affluence (which generally drops the birth rate), India is quickly on its way to overtake China in terms of population, making India the largest country in the world.

Here's a few quotes from the articles and studies I referenced (articles and studies listed at the bottom). 

In some Muslim countries—Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Lebanon—fertility rates have already fallen to near-European levels. Algeria and Morocco, each with a fertility rate of 2.4, are both dropping fast toward such levels. Turkey is experiencing a similar trend.
Iran is experiencing what may be one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in human history. Thirty years ago, after the shah had been driven into exile and the Islamic Republic was being established, the fertility rate was 6.5. By the turn of the century, it had dropped to 2.2. Today, at 1.7, it has collapsed to European levels.
Something dramatic has happened to the world’s birthrates. Defying predictions of demographic decline, northern Europeans have started having more babies. Britain and France are now projecting steady population growth through the middle of the century. In North America, the trends are similar. In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China. Indeed, the population of the world’s current demographic colossus will be shrinking. And China is but one particularly sharp example of a widespread fall in birthrates that is occurring across most of the developing world, including much of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The one glaring exception to this trend is sub-Saharan Africa, which by the end of this century may be home to one-third of the human race.
By midcentury, sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be the demographic center of Islam, home to as many Muslims as Asia and to far more than inhabit the Middle East. The non-Arab Muslim countries of Africa—Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal—constitute the one region of the Islamic world where birthrates remain high. In several of these countries, the average woman will have upward of five children in her lifetime.
Christianity will also feel the effects of Africa’s growth. By 2025, there will be as many Christians in sub-Saharan Africa—some 640 million—as in South America. By 2050, it is almost certain that most of the world’s Christians will live in Africa. As Kenyan scholar John Mbiti writes, “The centers of the church’s universality [are] no longer in Geneva, Rome, Athens, Paris, London, New York, but Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, Addis Ababa, and Manila."


A BBC news report about the video: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8189231.stm

Wilson Quarterly Demographic Analysis: http://www.wilsonquarterly.com/article.cfm?aid=1408

“Eurabian Follies” by Foreign Policy Magazine: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/04/eurabian_follies?page=0,2


Rach said...

Islamophobia. It's so frustrating. And ridiculous. I have wondered if the hype is true, and now I know that it's WAY overstated. Anger and fear is definitely not an accurate demonstration of Christ's love. It makes me sad.

That Married Couple said...

Fascinating stuff!

3. I would also be interested to hear theories on why the Muslim birth rate is dropping in some countries.

4. Do you mean not just because of immigration? That's really surprising. Is this a significant rise or just kind of a bump in the year-to-year rates?

5. Wow.

Thanks for sharing what you found!

Kacie said...

Yes, I did mean not just because of immigration - that's corrected, sorry! It looks like immigration is not the main cause of the uptick in Europe, but it may be in the US. Here's a quote about the birth rate rise:

The falling fertility rates in large segments of the Islamic world have been matched by another significant shift: Across northern and western Europe, women have suddenly started having more babies. Germany’s minister for the family, Ursula von der Leyen, announced in February that the country had recorded its second straight year of increased births. Sweden’s fertility rate jumped eight percent in 2004 and stayed put. Both Britain and France now project that their populations will rise from the current 60 million each to more than 75 million by midcentury. Germany, despite its recent uptick in births, still seems likely to drop to 70 million or less by 2050 and lose its status as Europe’s most populous country.

In Britain, the number of births rose in 2007 for the sixth year in a row. Britain’s fertility rate has increased from 1.6 to 1.9 in just six years, with a striking contribution from women in their thirties and forties—just the kind of hard-to-predict behavioral change that drives demographers wild. The fertility rate is at its highest level since 1980. The National Health Service has started an emergency recruitment drive to hire more midwives, tempting early retirees from the profession back to work with a bonus of up to $6,000. In Scotland, where births have been increasing by five percent a year, Glasgow’s Herald has reported “a mini baby boom.”

A similar upturn is under way in the United States, where the fertility rate has climbed to its highest level since 1971, reaching 2.1 in 2006, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. New projections by the Pew Research Center suggest that if current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise from today’s total of some 300 million to 438 million in 2050. Eighty-two percent of that increase will be produced by new immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants.

Leo33 said...

I hope your right. A soon-to-be-minority non-muslim poulation in a future Europe will likely accept far right politics before they allow free thought to become dominated by Islamic dogma.

Togenberg said...

Great sources.

Most surprising to me was Iran! I knew it had exploded in size up until the Revolution but I had no idea it was so radically altered growth-wise.

I can't abide the fear of "Islam" that I encounter in people of goodwill who know better. (I put Islam in quotes because the Islam fearers I know know very little about Islam and don't know any Muslims.)