The demographic death of Europe.

Here’s rule number one for this thread: if you mention George Bush, you’re an asshole. It is not (mirabile dictu) about the US at all, or at least not in a primary sense. This is about long-term trends that have been in place for a generation or more. As much as the topic makes possible, lets leave the political bickering out of it, please.

Mark Steyn is rather prone to glibness and partisanship. Nonetheless, I think the heart of his argument here (please note, originally written in a European publication) bears discussion. We’ve touched on this previously in various threads, but I don’t know that we’ve ever had a clear discussion of this by itself: what will be the eventual impact of Europe’s extremely low birthrates?

I’ve excerpted at length to summarize the points I want to debate; but I’d request anyone wanting to post to read the whole thing.

My questions:

What will the consequences be of a majority-Muslim Europe?
Eurodopers, is your forecast more hopeful? If so, why?

The biggest problem with the argument is that it assumes a steady state of events. Many things could happen between now and then - countries could restrict immigration and encourage their citizens to have children, for example. Or muslim birthrates could drop precipitously as the muslim world follows the rest of the world into prosperity.

It would be interesting to know if, say, the muslim population of Canada is growing any faster than the general Canadian population. If it’s at or slightly above the Canadian average, then perhaps we don’t need to worry, because as Muslims become more wealthy and modern their birthrates will collapse like ours did.

On the other hand, if the birthrate is an actual strategy (i.e. attempting to ‘win’ through population growth as Steyn says), then maybe the birthrate will remain high or even increase. What does Islam have to say about the religious need to multiply? Does it forbid birth control and abortion? Does it allow women to work, thus giving them more of an incentive to not have children?

His basic point is correct - if there’s a structural difference between Islam and the rest of the world that causes their birthrates to remain high, then obviously a big demographic shift is coming.

For background, see this thread, on the related topic of the cause of Europe’s “birth dearth”: (No consensus reached.)

Let’s take this apart one-by-one…

Total bullshit - Steyn is equating decline in population (a demographic feature)with decline in the Western World (a socio-cultural construct). A decline in one doesn’t necessarily mean a decline in the other.

What is a religious-society birthrate? Replacement level? 3 children? 4 children? What?

More bullshit - the EU hasn’t “adopted” the strategy of the Shakers. There’s no policy restricting the number of children that people have (a la China’s one child policy). People in Europe, for a host of socio-economic reasons, have decided that having small families (or no kids at all) is preferable to having kids at replacement level. Give people incentives for having more kids and they’ll have them.

When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it’s hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they’re running out a lot faster than the oil is. “Replacement” fertility rate–i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller–is 2.1 babies per woman.

Wow - Steyn has discovered the power of demographics!!! But without examining further the factors underlying those demographics.

Gee, I dunno - I think maybe he’s trying to tell us that their largely Muslim, right? Of course, what the above countries ALSO have in common is that they are largely traditional agrarian/nomadic socieities, where family sizes are generally large regardless of religious affiliation (check out the 2005 fertility rates here).

Hooray - more demographics by Steyn!!

And the relevance of this is what? Population in the Underdeveloped World (of which the Muslim World is largely a part) has outpaced population growth in the Developed World for more than 50 years.

Here’s some demographics for Steyn to chew on - 2 out of every 6 people on the ENTIRE PLANET is either Chinese or Indian!! 33%!! Oh my God!! What will we ever do?

To avoid collapse - of what? Europe’s current population total? While it’s true that Europe’s population will be getting older, that will be true for virtually every place in the world. By roughly 2050, there will be more old people (60+ years) as a percentage of world population than young people (15 years or less) - a first in world history (at no time has there been more old people than young people as a percentage of world population).

In addition, I don’t see where Steyn thinks the only options are either very old or very Muslim. What is the fertility rate for Muslims living in European countries? In what sense do Muslims living in European countries over sucessive generations have fertility rates far above those found in European countries?

Furthermore, his options neglect the numbers of immigrants that make up the population of Europe from non-Muslim countries. Are those numbers similar to those of Muslim immigrants?

If the concern is that Europe is becoming “too Muslim”, then the solution is simple - Don’t allow people from predominantly Muslim countries to migrate to Europe. After all, they are migrating to Europe for some reason, aren’t they?

The question to ask here is this - why does that percentage of the population not believe in a liberal, pluralistic society to being with? Sounds to me that while the Europeans may belive in the ideals of a liberal, pluralistic democracy, they’ve done a poor job of applying those ideals in practice. In short, Europe hasn’t done a very good job of integrating minority populations into their countries.

Again - why?

Hooo - scary, scary, breeding Muslims!!! Well, we could kill as many Muslims as possible, right? Or how about this - why not make a concerted effort on the part of European countries to integrate their Muslim populations into their countries; in other words, help them buy into the notions of a pluralistic, democractic society instead of insisting that they aren’t somehow “British” or “French” or “German” simply because they (or their ancestors) were originally from North Africa or the Middle East.

Even better - why not help create conditions that make migrating to Europe less attractive? Say by promoting conditions of economic development in North Africa and the Middle East?

In the CIA link I posted above, check out the some of the other countries that have low replacement rates:

China - 1.72
Japan - 1.39
South Korea - 1.29
Macau - 1.00
Hong Kong 0.93

Japan is an interesting case as their population is expected to contract to about 90 million (from the current level of around 120 million) over the next 50-75 years.

The other problem with the essay is that it presumes that Muslim immigrants will keep their M.E.N.A. cultural mores. A trip to the southwestern suburbs of Detroit should dispel that idea. Yes, Islam is still the predominant religion among recent immigrants from Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, but the kids are growing up inundated by music from local Rock or Country stations, watch American sit-coms and soaps on TV, and generally hang out at the same malls as the rest of the Christian kids.

There are elements within the communities who would like to hold back that assimilation, but for the most part, it goes on anyway.

We have already seen that in the distorted mirror of a carnival side-show with the recent riots in Europe. The kids were second-generation immigrants from M.E.N.A. and were initially identified as “Muslim,” yet a closer look at the actual ritoters discovered kids who had no real faith in Islam and were using the banner of Islam simply as a rallying point based on their ghettoization based on their parents’ religion.

Something similar has already happened in Japan. 25 years ago, the U.S. was inundated with stories of how we were going to be crushed by the workaholic Japanese salarymen with their exceedingly frugal standard of living and their reluctance to spend a yen without a good reason. Recently, the Wall Street Journal has run articles describing the problems that Japan faces with youth who have absorbed (perceived) Western values, who are not eager to secure or hold a job and have no money saved.

Can I guarantee that the children of Muslim immigrants will settle down to be good little Europeans? Of course, not. However, we have several historical references that indicate that if the standard of living can be kept high enough to support the next generation, the next generation will be much more like Europeans and Middle Easterners–even if the few who still pray tend to go to the mosque.

Too be fair to Steyn, I think he’s pointing out that it’s more likely that Muslim immigrants (and their descendents) are keeping their cultural mores in Europe (hence his point about the poll stating 60% of Muslims in the UK favor Sharia in the UK) - more so than the United States.

I don’t know whether this is true or not for Europe as a whole, but I suspect that it might be (but not for the reasons Steyn may think - I think part of it is class based and economic and also stems somewhat from Europe’s relatively recent colonial past). As you rightly pointed out with respect to the riots in France, the moniker “Muslim” was seen more as an identifier in an economic/class sense, rather than in a strictly religious/cultural sense.

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.
The standard of living amongst the extremist muslims is high and will be high to support the next generation.
Don’t forget that the politicians of Netherlands make sure that Islam is welcome and our government takes very good care that our muslims have everything they want.

Under pressure to level with the public, on November 12, interior minister Johan Remkes who is responsible for the secret service released a statement on the Hofstad Netwerk.

The number of persons and networks thinking and acting in terms of actual violence, he wrote, may be limited, but “the feeding ground from which they spring… runs into thousands…”

The Dutch secret service has kept some 200 suspected terrorists under surveillance since the Sept. 11 attacks in America. One, Jason W., was arrested in The Hague last Wednesday, November 10, together with a second suspect, after a 14-hour standoff with the police during which one of them lobbed a hand grenade that injured four officers. The area was sealed off and a no-fly zone imposed over the city before the pair were finally arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

The Dutch group received some of its orders from Abdeladim Akoudad, whom the Moroccan government believed involved in the May 2003 terrorist strikes in Casablanca which killed 32, and who was arrested near Barcelona in October 2003 at Rabat’s request. Akoudad’s detention led to the roundup in the Netherlands of five suspects in October 2003, including Samir Azzouz, a friend of van Gogh’s killer Bouyeri. The five were planning violent attacks on Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, the Dutch parliament and the Borssele nuclear reactor.

Most recently, three members of the Dutch network traveled to Portugal for the 2004 European soccer championships. They were arrested and deported on suspicion of plotting an attack.

The statement by the Dutch interior minister did not save him from a no-confidence motion in parliament over the government’s handling of the fallout from the van Gogh murder. The motion was defeated but the criticism and complaints of unanswered questions continue - such as why was not the filmmaker adequately protected after he made his documentary.

Jozias van Aartsen, head of the Liberal WD party, which is a member of the government coalition, accused the cabinet of being naïve about Muslim extremism and demanded tougher legal measures to combat the threat. “Dialogue is important” he said, “but not the number one measure. You don’t reach out to extremists with a government information campaign. This murderer is not a poor, lonely immigrant. That is not his profile. The killing was the product of international jihad.” (al Qaeda?)

Furt: “Eurodopers, is your forecast more hopeful? If so, why?”

It’s not like western culture is genetic. Even if the population of Europe and N. America is slowly becomes less and less European and more and more Asian/African, I doubt western culture is going to disappear. More likely the immigrants and their decendents will adapt much of the culture of thier new homes, while bringing some aspects of thier own culture, just as has been going on in Europe and everywhere else for thousands of years. It will just be carried on by people with slightly darker skin.

All “This country’s not having enough babies!” arguments, when examined, turn into “This country’s not having enough of our kind of babies!”

Demographic replacement will exactly take place through immigration. Some people are twitchy about the fact that the resultant babies will probably be brown. World’s tiniest violin.

To the extent that the society allows them to do so, the wild-eyed Muslim fanatics these folks are obviously afraid of (who have decided to move to our godless homo-loving liberal democracies for some reason) will, surprise, end up dull old Canadians or Dutch or what have you, with feminism and shish taouk for all.

However, you are supposing that the extremists who are now in their 20s and 30s will raise children, surrounded by European affluence, who will reject the surrounding culture to adhere to the extremism of their parents. I cannot say that they cannot, but historically I can point to the fact that similar phenomena have not happened elsewhere.

In the U.S., it is not M.E.N.A. Muslims, but Central American Hispanics that frighten people with their “refusal” to assimilate–all the while that the second generation is assimilating. They are not becoming nice little Protestant WASPs like their German and English predecessors, and they are having an effect that modifies American culture as they enter it, but they are very much becoming “Americans” in the way that Japanese (and now Korean) kids are becoming “Westernized.”

The irony of this statement kills me. Here he is going over all the times people predicting gloom and doom for the world and were wrong in an essay predicting gloom and doom for the world.

Besides that there is simply so much wrong with the essay that I don’t even know where to begin in refuting it. If there is something you want to narrow down out of the essay furt I would be happy to respond.

Not necessarily. But highly likely. How did you go from “not necessarily” to “total bullshit”? A socio-cultural construct, as you call it, cannot exist in limbo. Cultures take a long time to form, and they need a population to sustain them and carry on. It is naïve to assume a virtual replacement population within a generation will have time to integrate and adopt the host country’s culture.

He is naturally referring to the higher birth-rates of religious societies vers. a-religious societies. Replacement level is usually set at 2.1-2.2 for western societies.

I don’t know why he restricts himself to the EU, when it is the whole of Europe – but it is a fact that the citizens of the EU as a whole has chosen a lifestyle that does not include enough children to reproduce themselves and that they’re reliant on “converting” immigrants to their lifestyle to be able to sustain themselves. Whether financial incentives could dramatically alter that picture remains to be seen, the experience in that department is not rosy.

The relevance is naturally the continuous decline of western influence and validity.

Of many things. For starters the European welfare and pensioner systems which are overwhelming based not on savings but on a kind of tacit generation solidarity – but which it is doubtful will survive such a dramatic reversal of the working vers. dependent population.

No. Though countries like Spain have some potential in attracting immigrants from old colonies.

That’s what most European countries are trying. With mixed results.

Not for lack of trying. Immense sums have been spent and squandered on integration projects all over Europe – with very little success. Perhaps much of European culture just doesn’t make for easy assimilation. Also I believe, if blame is to be put, the onerous of assimilation lies on the immigrants shoulder.

I think he addressed that aspect. Islamic countries will also experience declining birth-rates – they’re just doing it at a later time that western. In fact several Islamic countries have been below replacement level for a long time, Iran, Turkey.

Very interesting topic; I’m going to have to give it some thought before replying in full. But first, a quick comment:

It always bugs me when people act like the only possible source of future immigrants for Europe is people from the Middle East and North Africa. Granted, as the birth rates from the OP’s article show, that’s where most of the burgeoning population of poor, potential immigrants is at. But IF Europe decides that it is important to attract people from countries with a similar democratic and cultural (or linguistic or even religious) background, there is a LOT more it can do to open its doors to people from countries in the New World. I’m from the US, but it is EXTREMELY difficult for me to get a work permit in the EU. Earlier this year (er, last year) my visa application for the UK was turned down for various bureaucratic reasons, even though I’m a young, college-educated, healthy, reproductive tax-payer, who could have assimilated into the culture very easily and willingly. There are tons of other Americans, Canadians, and Australians (and Brazilians, and Argentinians, etc.) who would be glad to move to Olde Europe, but the way the laws are set up, Europe doesn’t seem particularly interested in having us.

…Which is fair enough if they decide they want to treat all countries the same as far as immigration is concerned. (Assuming they DO treat all countries the same, and not make it easier for M.E.N.A.; I’m not quite sure how so many poor and apparently uneducated people from M.E.N.A. are allowed to be in Germany, for example – surely they’re not all computer programmers and CEOs.) But if they decide they DO want to encourage people from similar cultures to immigrate, they could sure as hell make it a lot easier. :mad:

I just wanted to say that this part made me pause:

This is the first time I’ve ever combined thoughts of “the thirties” and looking forward. Far out.

The OP’s quote reminds me of the constant eugenetic argument of intelligent 30-year-olds throughout the 19th and 20th century: “Hey! Dumb and unfit or immigrant parents breed like crazy, while reasonable, well-educated folks like ourselves have none, or one or two kids tops! That can only be detrimental to our standards of behavior, education, etc…What will the world come to!”

This eugenetic argument became a public meme shortly after the discovery of breeding laws for cattle and produce. It led to an eugenetic debate in the 1915-1930’s. At first, the debate went between well meaning, idealistic and scientific folk, and scientists, resulting in many eugenetics-laws in the USA, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Just a few years later, eugenetics were adopted by Nazi Germany and they made eugenetics taboo ever since. And rightly so, IMHO, because eugenetics is simply incorrect. If nothing else, the very time the idea has been iaround should prove it is wrong. If bad folk have been breeding more then good folk, science and culture should have gone to hell in a handbasket since 1910, right?

Yet, the idea, or perhaps better said, the hunch, “unfit folks breed more then the good folk” keeps popping up. I think its attraction lies in an optical and psychological illusion. Well educated people in their late twenties notice they have put off becoming parents, and notice it is hard to become one, what with finding a suitable partner of the same level and combining career and parenthood.
At the same time, we all know juicy stories of totally unfit teenagers or young single parents who get one kid after another they can’t take care of. Such stories have a strong emotional appeal. They comfort us that we may be not the best parents on earth, but, hey, we’re not that bad. And they enrage us, not just because innoncent kids are hurt, but also because we work so hard at parenthood ourselves, and here’s some f**ing excuse for a parent who doesn’t even seem to try.
I’ve seen several threads on these forums, where Dopers express intense rage about 22 year-old Kateesha who left her kids to die in the car on a sun-baked parking lot, while she went and got her nails done. Or 25 year old Shaynette who let her baby starve while lying about drunk for days. Or, so schetch the Dutch variant, the 44 year old Fatima who has been in Holland for twenty years but doesn’t speak a word of Dutch and doesn’t have a clue what her little Achmed is up to, or even if, and where, he went to school.

These stories color our perception creating an optical and psycholocal illusion. As the stories of unfit parents stay with us, as we doubt we will ever have kids ourselves; or doubt we will be able to raise our own kids when there are so many bad infulences about; as we tend to perceive the normal families we personally know as the exception and the stories in the papers as the rule, typical for the “rest of the outside world”…
it is a wonder we start believing so many unfit parents out there who either kill their kids, or turn them into the next batch of consuming couch potatoes, ho’s and gangstas, or aspiring terrorists. All those misfits have to come from somewhere, right?
That is colored perception, not fact; the fact is, that 95 percent of parents in reasonable circumstances, whatever their religion or race, do a decent job.
The overall crime-rate in the Netherlands oscillate between more or less fixed numbers in the past decades; and for every criminal born to idiots there a just as much criminals raised in perfectly normal families whose siblings turned out fine and nobody understands what the hell went wrong.

In the big Dutch cities, first and second-generation immigrants become a larger and larger part of the population. In 2004, Amsterdam’s integration-monitor gave the number percentage of non-western ethnic minorities (first and second generation) in the four Dutch big cities as between 20 and 35 %. It is estimated is that the percentage might rise to above 50 % in Amsterdam in 2030.

So, I don’t disagree with the facts quoted by Mark Steyn in the OP. The Netherlands, with the big cities first, become colored rapidly. I don’t think, however, that it will be such a big problem as he claims. Culture will find a way, as it is designed to let people live together more or less peacfully.

The result might not be our current way, but then again, we won’t be around anymore to consider that a problem.
For instance, in the fifties pessimist opposing womens rights claimed the demise of the family, once women would compete in the job-market with men and Father would lose the status of sole earner. And you know what? Those pessimists were 100 % right. Men have lost status, when they lost breadwinner status.
But nowadays, everybody thinks that’s a GOOD thing. :smiley:

I should not worry about it. As Maastricht pointed out, around the time of WWI, White Protestant Americans panicked that the US was going to be taken over by brown Southern Europeans. Serious people seriously thought this was The End of Civilization as We Know It.

It did not happen. American society changed, mostly for the better.

Europe in 2106 will be more Islamic, browner I suppose. So what? Maybe they will get some better ethnic restaurants. Maybe the Mayor of Paris will be named Al Ghamdi. That does not concern me in the least.

I also think it is an illusion. A lot of those children “bred” by supposedly “unfit folks” actually end up being better educated than their parents and having more opportunities. As long as the opportunities for higher education and better jobs are there, there will always be a percentage of the so-called “unfit folks” who will use those opportunities. I think the best examples are most of our own families. Unless you are a Carnegie or a Rockefeller, I can almost guarantee that only two generations ago your family was probably considered to be “unfit folks” and your great-grandparents had ten or thirteen siblings.

In my family, my father was the first to go to college. Within one or two generations, a lot of those third generation muslim children will also be going to college and working in good jobs and incidentally breeding less. I think we have a lot less to worry about than Mr. Steyn seems to think.

Yes, but what would cause those events? Even if EU governments were to suddenly endorse having more kids, is it plausible that the citizens would follow?

I think it also indicates you didn’t bother to read the article.