Thursday, January 18, 2007

Liberty, equality, fertility

It's always embarrassing when right-wingers become demographers. Leading the charge lately has been Mark Steyn, presenting the view that Muslims will "outbreed" the West, leading to doom. Fortunately, actual news does seem to make it into his bunker in New Hampshire and he's been forced to confront the latest increase in the birthrate in France, which is now up to 2.0 children per woman, very close to the replacement rate. His predictable, but nonetheless pathetic response --

Which country has the healthiest fertility rate? France.

Which country has the most Muslims? France.

He does not present a shred of evidence showing that it's French Muslims having a high relatively birthrate. And not that he's looking for it, but it won't be that easy to find since the French census does not collect information about religion.

There's another bit of dishonesty. He purports to support his thesis by presenting a list of France and "its neighbors" ranked by birthrate and proportion of Muslim population and show that they correspond. But what's the definition of "neighbor"? Well, it includes Austria and the Netherlands, which don't border France, and it omits the Republic of Ireland, which of course destroys his thesis because the Muslim population is tiny and yet the birthrate was until the latest release higher than France and is still among the highest in Europe.

Anyway, since he presents zero evidence for his thesis that only Muslims are having kids in France, we'll trump him with one anecdote. Segolene Royal has 4 children. Heh Indeed.

UPDATE 21 AUGUST: Here's a comprehensive debunking, from the Financial Times, of the Eurabia thesis. The essence: Muslim population in Europe is small (4 percent), their fertility rate is converging to that of their resident country, and the fertility rate in the source countries -- mainly North Africa -- is also converging to European averages.

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