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.
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
“A Muslim Europe?”: The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/01/a-muslim-europe/3700/
“Eurabian Follies” by Foreign Policy Magazine: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/04/eurabian_follies?page=0,2