Sunday, July 17, 2005

Carry on up the Indus

Also in Sunday's Telegraph, Niall Ferguson presents a factoid that is predictably going to be hyped by the less careful spinners on the reactionary right:

The gap between Pakistan and Britain has been even wider. Total fertility per woman in Britain today is around 1.7. The latest figure for Pakistan is 4.3.

Grist for the mill for the neo-Malthusians, but here's the problem: Pakistani women give birth to more children than their British counterparts, but fewer of those children survive. Infant mortality is 72.44 deaths per 1,000 live births in Pakistan but just 5.16 deaths per 1,000 live births in the UK (not bad for socialised medicine, eh?).

Pakistan indeed is a major factor in the problem of Islamist terrorism. But demographic trends are only a small part of the story. The major part of the story is that for reasons known only to him and his inner circle, George Bush chose to avoid a strategically difficult challenge to the status quo in Pakistan and to instead pick a fight with the Saddam regime, the latter odious but way down the list of priorities in any reasonable definition of the GWoT. One does wonder though if the sudden focus of the reactionary right on relative fertility rates is going to bring a rethinking of their position on contraception?

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