Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Scary Demographics

This (greatly) extends a comment I made here.

There are some demographic realities about Europe that are fairly clear. The first is that the European welfare state is fiscally and demographically not sustainable. The current euro crisis is the intersection of two things:
(1) Establishing a common currency without sufficient institutional underpinnings to made it work.
(2) Fiscal profligacy intersecting with adverse economic conditions, including inability to use currency devaluation to make adjustment easier, due to (1).

It is not the last such crisis Europe will experience as long as it maintains the two basic causes: a common currency without sufficient institutional commonality and welfare states which do not have the fiscal/demographic basis to be sustained at the current levels.

The second demographic reality that is fairly clear is that the “Scandinavian” (or, if you prefer, the “Swedish”) model is not sustainable if Scandinavia continues to import migrants too culturally distinct to preserve the existing public policy regime. Scandinavian social democracy was developed in largely monocultural societies that consequently had high levels of communication between official and citizens, high levels of commonality in expected behaviour. This minimised levels of waste, inefficiency and abuse of the system while permitting much easier design and operation of the system, given people were overwhelmingly operating off a similar set of expectations and responses.

The Muslim migrants have greatly variant expectations, aspirations, outlooks and with much less effective levels of communication with officials. This greatly increases the levels of dysfunction: including much higher levels of crime, unemployment and welfare expense. And it is harder for Muslims to integrate into Western society: particularly if multiculturalist welfarism operates to systematically undermine any incentive to do so. As the work of Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels (long interview here, another here, here, here and here) brings out rather starkly:
A French survey in Le Figaro showed that only 14 percent of the country's estimated five million Muslims see themselves as "more French than Muslim." Research (pdf) made by the German Ministry of Interior shows that only 12 percent of Muslims living in Germany see themselves as more German than Muslim. A Danish survey published by the pro-Muslim pro-democratic organization Democratic Muslims led by the Danish PM and Muslim Naser Khader showed that only 14 percent of Muslims living in Denmark could identify themselves as "Democratic and Danish."
A major sign of the failure of such integration in Europe is that younger generations of Muslims are generally more committed to their Muslim identity—one typically manifested against the surrounding Western societies—than their parents.

Either Scandinavia is going to have to find some way to turn Muslims into “little Scandinavians” culturally fairly speedily or they are going to have to substantially change their public policy model to cope with this cultural diversity or they are going to have to expel the migrants: failure to adopt any of these strategies will just lead to mounting expense, social dysfunction and political angst.

Supplanted majority?
These are big issues. But there is a much grander scenario being sketched, notoriously in Mark Steyn’s America Alone, which is of a demographic collapse leading to a Muslim majority Europe.

In his Afterword to his dystopian C22nd SF thriller Caliphate (which is quite a good read if you like military SF), Tom Kratman sketches out the scenario. The argument is deceptively simple: if 100 European women have a fertility rate of 1.6 children per woman for three generations while 10 Muslim women have a fertility rate of 4.2 children per woman for four generations (due to marrying younger), in a hundred years one ends up with the 91% having 49 descendants and the 9% having 193 descendants.

There are some major problems with scenario. The first is estimating the size of the Muslim population in Europe. France, for example, studiously refuses to even collect such statistics. The demographics of France turn out to be fascinating, as France is having quite the prolonged population boom, after a long period of very low comparative fertility rates.
The Muslim numbers do not seem large enough without very high fertility rates indeed to be skewing the overall figures down to the 1.6 fertility rate among ethnic French he posits (particularly given France is coming off a decades-long fertility boom), though the French state's coyness about such matters does leave a large hole for scare-mongering. And France does have a major problem in the banlieus. Caused in part by disastrous labour market regulation. But it is traditional in France to treat the underclass like crap.

Yet Kratman’s scenario posits such high fertility rates. The French Muslim population mostly originally came from Algeria (fertility rate of 2.38), Morocco (2.38) and Tunisia (1.93). So, to make his scenario work, we would have to presume that Muslim migrants (first and succeeding generations) have a much higher fertility rate than their feeder countries: which is not very plausible.

Then there is the problem that Kratman posits a century of constant fertility rates: this is even more deeply implausible. First, fertility rates are clearly related to income: rising income leads to falling fertility rates.

Second, fertility rates can change over time: sometimes quite dramatically. One of the great unknown demographic facts: which country has had the fastest fertility collapse recorded? Iran. Why would an Iranian woman—with access to contraception—bring either a daughter to be oppressed, or a son to be an oppressor, into the world of the mullahs? (The high fertility rate of Saudi Arabia [3.31]—where women are much more oppressed than they are in Iran—sadly suggests sufficient levels of systematic misogyny can keep fertility rates up, though even in Saudi Arabia fertility rates are dropping.)

Revealingly—in order to make his scenario work to create a Muslim-majority Europe—Kratman has to posit the extra push of greatly expanded Muslim immigration to Europe (due to a devastating US nuclear attack on the heartlands of Islam in retaliation for terrorists nuking Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City). This both expands the base of the Muslim population and leads to “white flight” from Europe to North America, the Antipodes and South Africa.

Kratman does have a point in that “white flight” could become an issue. Migration from the Netherlands has increased significantly in recent years as dealing with the Netherlands Muslim minority becomes more fractious (notably via the murder of Theo van Gogh) and murderously controversial. As welfare obligations bear down on a shrinking youth population that could also encourage emigration by young adults.

But, here’s the thing. The looming fiscal collapse of the European social welfare states is likely to have several effects. First, greatly reduce the attractiveness of Europe as a destination for Muslim migration: both due to greatly reduced welfare and because of economic and social turmoil. It is notable that two-thirds of those emigrating from the Netherlands, for example, are not ethnically Dutch.

Second, when the state fails, people retreat into their families. This encourages rather than discourages fertility.

A major collapse of the European welfare state is likely to encourage “white flight” but also, as we have already seen, immigrant flight.

The upshot of all this is that any scenario which posits a century of constant (and constantly different) fertility rates (including Muslim fertility rates higher than in the feeder countries: the very high Palestinian fertility rate, if it is accurate, is in part due to the EU using aid [pdf] to wage demographic warfare against Israel) is the one thing that will not happen.

Europe has major demographic problems with grim implications. A Muslim majority is not likely to be one of them.

ADDENDA This post has been lightly edited to clarify meaning.

FURTHER ADDENDA The classic alarmist video: like to know where they got some of their figures. A rebuttal: more details.

ANOTHER ADDENDA Why not to buy into the Great Muslim Demographic Threat is set out very well by Razib Khan here.


  1. Actually, most French Muslims come from France. That's one of the reasons I'm not terribly impressed by fertility rates in Tunisia, Algeria, etc. Moreover, those French Muslims are, as you noted, less assimilated, more traditional, and more patriarchal, than their parents. I did find info on line (which, by the way, I can't find now, so feel free to disregard it) from a French ObGyn whose practice is mostly Tunisian women. He wrote the average number of children for Tunisian descended women in France was 3.6 per, or nearly twice the rate in Tunisia. Note, further, that the Muslims in France have already done what you observe increases TFR, retreated into their families.

    It's also, don't you think, a little suspicious that the population with the greatest TFR, France, is also the population with the largest percentage of Muslims? Coincidence?

    Does that mean that I _know_ this is going to happen. Hell, no, and I said so expressly. I don't know, but all the evidence that I've seen that matters seems to indicate that, as I said, that's the way to bet it.

    Glad you liked the book.



  2. Tom: when I said "come from" I meant in a "source of population" sense, not in an individual sense: I have rephrased slightly to make that clearer.

    That Muslims in Europe currently have a higher fertility rate than non-Muslims is fairly clear: the question is how much higher and how stable that will be. Iceland and Ireland both have higher fertility rates than France: one doubts Muslim populations have much to do with it. France also has had a fertility rate surge that predates significant Muslim immigration.

    That it would be better if we had decent demographic data to work from is the one thing that is very clear. Blocking data to frustrate analysis makes things worse rather than better.

  3. You're probably right that a Muslim majority is not in prospect in Europe. But a majority will not be necessary to severely compromise the liberal nature of European societies.

  4. And that stability - which is to say the validity of the assumption of inertia - is a key question. Muslim TFR could go down. Equally, though, it could go up as they disassimilate yet more. On the other hand, Euro TFR is most unlikely to go up for a combination of interlacing and very difficult to solve problems, notably several generations of ZPG propagandization, an emphasis on short term satisfaction amounting to hedonism (which is about all the EU has to sell), high taxation that they can't politically get control of, and - if a continuingly low or dropping birthrate - the need to import workers to keep the Social Democratic Ponzi scheme going.

    One possible solution to that last - and it's not a bad solution, indeed some are trying to shift in that direction - is to take in immigrants from more or less culturally compatible Latin America, some parts of Christian Africa, and a few like spots. That might work, though the tax regime in Europe makes it a harder sell for the prospective immigrants, if they are to work and improve things rather than go on the dole and make things worse.

  5. Drat! That last was me, Tom Kratman.

  6. Oh, I should probably add this:

    It's only anecdotal evidence but, my last job in the Army I had to deal with a great many fairly high end EU types. They were certain that a Muslim majority was inevitable, and the only question was when, estimates ranging from between 40 years (a very low end outlier), to a more common 65 years, to no more than 100. Part of that calc was driven by assumptions of rates of conversion among Euros to Islam. There is, by the way, conversion in both directions, but it's not balanced. It's more or less heavily weighted to conversion (rather, reversion) to Islam.

  7. While I am not exactly enamoured of the predictive powers of the EU elite (binding value of the euro, anyone?), that perhaps would help explain why there is such a paucity of good demographic data. Such a paucity also indicates an amazing contempt towards their own citizens: but the entire EU structure is predicated on varying levels of that.

    Population supplanting has occurred in history, though modern DNA studies indicate that it is a lot rarer than might be imagined.

    The conversion issue is a fascinating extra wrinkle. As an Australian (so a country which much higher immigration rates than the US or EU) I am struck by how badly the EU handles immigration in general. But we do have the advantage of being able to import a lot of East Asians, who integrate well and productively, and Indians and Islanders, who get the parliamentary democracy thing.

  8. Being a settler country, much like ourselves and C,eh? N,eh? D,eh?, you should be fairly good at assimilation, as we are. That said, you, too, have your vocal element that is trying mightily to put a stop to assimilation.

    I assume you realize that if a prime driving factor is conversion to the culture of the newcomers, there wouldn't be much DNA evidence, but the old culture would still be dead.

  9. Oh, evidence of cultural supplanting is widespread. That clearly happens much more easily than the supplanting of whole populations. Though often the effect is somewhat interactive: the supplanting culture itself is changed by the interaction.

    Yes, we have our vocal anti-assimilationists: our official intelligentsia is notably more dominated by hegemonic ideas than that of the US or even (arguably) the EU. They are losing that argument, however.

  10. Interesting post as always, Lorenzo.

    I think that there are three stages that migrants go through generally. The first generation often has a nostalgic fondness for the "mother country". The second generation often tries to "fit in" with the mainstream culture. The third generation then tries to reconnect with the mother country. I've observed this with regard to my cousins, whose father is a second generation migrant from Hong Kong. My uncle is as determinedly Australian as he can be; his mother is very, very Chinese and has not really integrated at all. She came from a rich family (second child of second wife). The elder of my cousins has bucked against his father's attitude, and really embraced his Chinese heritage very strongly. He has a kind of romantic view of it, I think.

    But some Muslim immigrants seem to skip a step in the scheme above. As you observe, some identify more strongly with Islam than their parents. An interesting explanation as to why this might be is explained in a link contained in my post here. Radical Islam actually provides an alternative escape from the various demands of traditional parents e.g. you can marry whomever you want - you don't have to marry your cousin back in Pakistan. And it also seems to offer a way to combat some of the worst aspects of Western life (drug use etc), hence its attraction to disaffected young men.

  11. LE: Thanks very much for directing me to that Prospect piece: deeply enlightening.

    Glad you liked the post.