A week ago, we showed a video of what we hoped was not representative of the general sentiment among Germans towards the refugee crisis as two ladies suggested, "Every year 2-3 million arrive...it’s generally about foreign infiltration." Now we have the other side as the following video shows a muslim man threatening a German that "his daughter will wear a headscarf and marry a Muslim and that Germans stand no chance with their low birth rate," adding that muslims will "conquer Europe not with weapons, but with birth rates."OH PUH-LEEZ! I hope that readers took that as seriously as the tabloid story about the transsexual who obtained a sex change operation but ultimately became a lesbian.
A demographics lesson
In order to make good on that threat, Muslim newcomers would have to surpass European populations with higher birth rates and overwhelm the hosts culturally. I would suggest that the opposite is much more likely to occur.
Consider, for example, the 2008 UN report indicating that fertility rates have been plummeting in the Middle East.
While the UN report only documented the decline in birthrates, the reason is obvious from an economic perspective. Prosperity and development are the best forms of birth control. In an agrarian or hunter-gatherer society, children quickly become production units and therefore profit centers. In a modern industrialized society, children are cost centers.
Callum Thomas recently highlighted this well-known inverse relationship between income and fertility rates, though the topic of discussion at the time surrounded China`s decision to abolish its one-child policy.
Even though China has abolished its one-child policy and tacitly encouraging two children per family, getting people to have more babies is not as easy as it sounds, according to this NY Times article:
Demographers and economists say the cost and difficulty of child-rearing are likely to deter many eligible couples from having two children despite the relaxed rules, Mu Guangzong, a professor of demography at Peking University, said in a telephone interview.As I noted before, children become cost centers in industrialized societies and the economic incentives to procreate in the era of birth control are low.
“I don’t think a lot of parents would act on it, because the economic pressure of raising children is very high in China,” he said. “The birthrate in China is low and its population is aging quickly, so from the policy point of view, it’s a good thing, as it will help combat a shortage of labor force in the future. But many parents simply don’t have the economic conditions to raise more children.”
Bottom line: Muslim Europeans are likely to see their birthrates decline and converge to the levels of their hosts.
Cultural assimilation or invasion?
The second question involves the issue of cultural assimilation, or cultural invasion. To answer that question, we can turn to two case studies: China and Iran.
During the 13th Century, the Mongols conquered China and established the Yuan Dynasty to rule China. Over the space of a generation, the Mongol conquerors adopted many of the habits of the locals and became, in many ways, Chinese:
Notwithstanding the aspects of their rule that were certainly negative for China, the Mongols did initiate many policies — especially under the rule of Khubilai Khan — that supported and helped the Chinese economy, as well as social and political life in China.Cultural invasion is not as easy as it sounds - and that occurred in an instance when the invaders militarily conquered the region, which is not the case in Europe today.
In order to ingratiate himself with Confucian China, for example, Khubilai restored the rituals at court — the music and dance rituals that were such an integral part of the Confucian ideology. He also founded ancestral temples for his predecessors — his father and Chinggis (Genghis) Khan (his grandfather) — in order to carry out the practices of ancestor worship that were so critical for the Chinese.
And in an even greater effort to ingratiate himself personally to the Chinese, Khubilai insisted on giving his second son, Jin Chin, a Chinese-style education. Confucian scholars tutored the young boy, and he was introduced to the tenets of both Confucianism and Buddhism.
Khubilai also set up institutions to rule China that were very familiar to the Chinese, adapting or borrowing wholesale many of the traditional governmental institutions of China. For example, the Six Ministries that had been responsible for carrying out policy were retained by Khubilai's government, as was the Secretariat, a decision-making body. And the provincial administrative structure that organized China into provinces, further divided into districts and counties and so on, was not changed. The Chinese, therefore, found much of the Yuan Dynasty's political structures to be familiar.
For a more modern example, consider the demographics of Iran. As the chart below shows, about one-third of the population was alive when radical students stormed and took over the American embassy in 1980.
It also shows the long-term problem facing Iran`s religious clerics. Young Iranians are becoming secular, which creates problems of control by the ayatollahs, according to this NY Times Op-Ed that compared and contrasted the political landscape between Israel and Iran:
For more than three decades, Iran’s oil wealth has allowed its religious leaders to stay in power. But sanctions have taken a serious economic toll, with devastating effects on the Iranian people. The public, tired of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s bombastic and costly rhetoric, has replaced him with Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who has promised to fix the economy and restore relations with the West.In other words, Iranian youth prefer to party rather than spend their days in religious devotion. If they are tilting towards western influences and culture, then the more likely outcome of a mass migration of Muslims into Europe is cultural assimilation.
But Mr. Rouhani’s rise is in reality the consequence of a critical cultural and demographic shift in Iran — away from theocracy and confrontation, and toward moderation and pragmatism. Recent tensions between America and Russia have emboldened some of Iran’s radicals, but the government on the whole seems still intent on continuing the nuclear negotiations with the West.
Iran is a land of many paradoxes. The ruling elite is disproportionately made up of aged clerics — all men — while 64 percent of the country’s science and engineering degrees are held by women. In spite of the government’s concentrated efforts to create what some have called gender apartheid in Iran, more and more women are asserting themselves in fields from cinema to publishing to entrepreneurship.
Many prominent intellectuals and artists who three decades ago advocated some form of religious government in Iran are today arguing for popular sovereignty and openly challenging the antiquated arguments of regime stalwarts who claim that concepts of human rights and religious tolerance are Western concoctions and inimical to Islam. More than 60 percent of Iranians are under age 30, and they overwhelmingly believe in individual liberty. It’s no wonder that last month Ayatollah Khamenei told the clerical leadership that what worried him most was a non-Islamic “cultural invasion” of the country.
For an example of how cultural assimilation can work, consider the new government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. While this is not a Trudeau endorsement, I would point out that new cabinet ministers include a former refugee from Afghanistan and a turban wearing Sihk who was a soldier with tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan as Minister of Defense.
Now, that`s assimilation!
Bottom line: Europe may experience some temporary indigestion as it copes with the flood of refugees, but the more likely long-term outcome will be "how Muslims will become more secular, affluent and see their birthrates fall."