Fertility, Faith and Islam

Islam, like the Christians of Europe and America, continue to have a collapse in fertility.

With the exception of Iran, by far the sharpest fertility declines have been in the Maghrib countries most closely tied to Western Europe by migration, that is, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. I stress that the North African countries are not yet at European levels, but they are moving remarkably fast in that direction. (Tunisia just reached replacement levels). Conversely, the countries least tied to Europe, such as Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, continue to have Third World profiles.

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Maybe Europe and the Middle East are merging into one common Eurabia – but it’s far from clear which side is doing a better job of imposing its opinions on the other. Presently, it looks as if the Maghreb is becoming European.

Such a wrenching change cannot fail to have political implications. In a country with a Third World fertility rate, it is very unlikely that women will seek or be granted education: their designated career path as mothers is starkly clear. Meanwhile, adolescents and young men proliferate, and provide ample cannon fodder for armies or militias, to whom life is cheap. But then imagine a newer, more European society, in which men and women are intensely concerned about their nuclear families, and have invested their love and attention into just one or two offspring. As citizens become more educated, they are not prepared to accept the demagoguery and systematic corruption that has long passed for government in those regions. They see themselves as responsible members of a civil society, with aspirations that demand to be met: they feel they deserve full democratic participation. Of course the Arab Spring began in Tunisia, with its low fertility rate and its intimate ties to France.

As wealth grows, the birth rate for all will decline.

It will take a conscious decision, and a willingness to sacrifice, to have many children.

I have a suspicion that Islam – which never placed much faith in self-discipline, especially for men – isn’t going to win this contest.

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