Thursday, November 11, 2004
PESKY NUMBERS GET IN THE WAY OF AN EXCITING STORY
You've all probably heard it: the story that Europe, particularly "old Europe" is on the verge of being overrun by waves of fertile and fecund Muslim immigrants and their offspring. Given that birthrates in many European nations are now veering down toward (or under) the replacement rate, we have a vision of a future Europe being more Muslim than Euorpean (whatever either of those terms actually mean). Well, Alexander Engel throws some cold water on these breathless prognostications by looking at the numbers:
Two things to comment. First point: Demographic change is often less dramatic than it was implied in the discussion. There isn’t any ground in the assertion that within 20-50 years "perhaps Germany will become predominantly Muslim". Most German Muslims are Turkish, so let’s just for a moment pretend that the German society (pop. 82.4 mio) could be divided into "demographic Turks" (1.8 mio, that is) and "demographic Germans" (80.6 mio). Using the CIA factbook quoted by Iris Borowy, we can derive by the given death and birth rates that Germany shrinks at 0.20% a year, Turkey grows at 1.1. The German shrinkage is even a bit worse, as "Turkish fertility" goes into these -0.2%. Without the "demographic Turks" it is a 0.23% decline. If this goes on, then even in fifty years (which is a very long time for a statistical trend to continue!) there would be 72.0 mio "demographic Germans" vs. 3.2 mio "demographic Turks" in Germany. Turkish/Muslim predominace? Hardly. Now let's try the EU perspective: Take the 68.9 mio inhabitants of Turkey plus the 1.8 mio "German Turks" (i.e. 70.7 mio) to the 80.6 mio Germans today: In fifty years, it would be 120 mio Turks vs 72 mio Germans in Europe. A change in ratio from 80:70 to 72:120 is hardly insignificant, but Germans are not going to be demographically extinguished, far from it.He adds:
The fear that European, or even Western culture is threatened by "Muslim fertility” is silly. In practical terms, the Westernisation (more specifically, Americanisation) of cultures around the globe is much more imminent than their "Muslimisation”. If you want clash-of-cultures rhetoric, then it is not the West who should fear.Interesting.