Demographic collapse, rather than Islamization, is the greater danger for Europe

Jim Bennett asked in the comments of this post:

One of the chief issues here is whether the birthrates of second-and third-generation immigrants from high-birth-rate countries remains high, or whether the immigrants assimilate to local values. Historically, immigrants from high-birth-rate countries have adopted birth rates of their hosts throughout the West, except for religious communities that deliberately isolate themselves from the mainstream. These have included, in the USA and Canada, groups like Old Order Amish, Hutterites, and certain strictly-observant Orthodox Jews. The question then becomes, if the radical Islamists set the tone in segregated enclaves, including enforcing Salafist codes of behavior on women, will this not continue the traditional attitudes about birth rates as well?

This English language page at the German Interior Ministry’s website gives a first hint:

Sex, age and birth rates
In 2003, 3.4 million foreigners (47%) were women and 3.9 million (53%) were men. With an average age of 34, foreigners are younger than native Germans by eight years. In 2003, of the 76,200 children born to foreigners in Germany, 39,355 received foreign citizenship (6% of all births in Germany); the remaining 48% were given German citizenship on the basis of the Nationality Act, in effect since 1 January 2000 . In 1999, the fertility rate of foreign women was 1.8 births, with a downward tendency, compared to 1.4 births for German women.

So even the somewhat more fertile immigrants don’t have a high enough birthrate to replace themselves. As indicated, their birthrates also are declining. According this German website, they quickly converge with the birthrate of the general German population, and soon will have 1.3 children per couple, the same as we have.

Zuwanderer gleichen ihr Reproduktionsverhalten schnell an das der “Einheimschen” an. So haben die in Deutschland lebenden Italiener und Spanier inzwischen noch weniger Kinder als die Deutschen. Die Geburtenrate der Türken Deutschlands nähert sich in schnellem Sinkflug von derzeit 1,7 dem statistischen Durchschnittsniveau der Deutschen von 1,3.

(Availability of the website seems to be sporadic).

There are religious zealots here, but not nearly enough to have an effect on Muslim birthrates, as Jim speculated. The reason why Germans have so few children are the huge economic disincentives – having children is by far the leading cause of poverty. While extended families could help young couples to have more than two children, all their resources would be used up, and the sacrifice is too much for all but the most traditionalist Muslims.

Ulrich Speck mentioned in the comments to the same post that Turkish men often marry wives from Turkey, rather than a Turkish woman who grew up in Germany. While this creates problems for the integration of the children, since their mothers rarely learn proper German, it has little impact on Turkish birthrates. Many Turkish woman who grow up here either remain single, or marry a German man or at least one from some other European country.

As to religious conversions: For every German converting to Islam there are many Muslims who capitulate before our secular society. They give up teaching their children any values, to wit, Muslim girls running around half-naked in warm weather. While some children of such parents will turn to Islamists for values and guidances, hedonism and consumerism are more frequent attitudes

Regardless of ethnicity or religion, having children has to become affordable again, or Germany will gradually become an empty country, rather than an Islamicized one. We also can’t afford to let a single child’s potential go to waste, for we haven’t any to spare. Even if we just wanted to keep our current, already undesirable age structure of the population constant, we would have to let in more than 100 million immigrants over the next decades. This would be neither possible nor even desirable, so we have to make the best of an unenviable situation. Irrational fears of a so-called ‘Eurabia’ would be a distraction and a hindrance towards that goal.

12 thoughts on “Demographic collapse, rather than Islamization, is the greater danger for Europe”

  1. Not only Germany, it’s happening in MA and SF.

    –Regardless of ethnicity or religion, having children has to become affordable again, or Germany will gradually become an empty country, rather than an Islamicized one. —


  2. It is much worse in Italy, which is hollowing out at an amazing race. How can a country (or area) grow economically while going through a demographic collapse. Granted, this is a world-wide phenomenom (and isn’t just related to the cost of having children); however, it’s most pronounced in Europe.
    They will always be somewhat important to us economically and especially culturally, but they are fading into a slumber and losing the ‘animal spirits’ that made them big on the world stage (at least for our and our children’s lifetime).

    I wonder, are there any historical antecedants?

    The best I can think of are Europe itself, twice: the fall of Rome and the plague.

  3. This whole demographic collapse accompanied by chicken little media hand wringing is a lot of nonsense.
    Look at what happened in Europe after the population disaster of the Black Death. Look at the creativity and innovation in Israel with its minuscule population.
    Quantity is not synomous with quality. So what if Europe faces a decline in population? Considering the sources the EU is turning to to change that situation, a declining population seems a far more attractive alternztive.

  4. Ralf — my comments were directed more at France than Germany. They seem to have worse ghettoization.

    Also there is the question of to what extent the current patterns of assimilation will hold up or fall apart if immigration continues to accelerate.

    The most fundamental mistake in future forecasting is to make straight-line extrapolations of current trends without examining carefully why such trends should continue. Both sides in this debate are often guilty of this mistake.

  5. Millie,

    The point you make that the quantity of a population does not necessarily affect its quality of output is reasonable. However, what’s more tragic is the fact that these shrinking European populations are controlled by a stultifying social system that depresses achievement. In terms of actual cultural and technological achievement, the more Europe has practiced socialism, the less its people have created anything of real worth. Look what Communism with the cultural output of the Russians: artistic achievement was put out, music struggled (poor ol’ Shostakovitch) and scientific innovation was limited to practical military uses.

    Low birthrates indicate lower expectations for future opportunities in society. What’s the point of having kids if nothing promising awaits them? It seems to me that climates of achievement and modestly healthy birthrates go hand-in-hand.

  6. The so called “Demographic Collaps” of Germany (and other countries in Europe) has so far proven to be a myth since I have first heard of it in school 25 years ago. The population of Germany has increased in the last 15 years by 2,7 Mio. (Population data Germany). In fact it has only decreased twice in any given year since 1945. The reason is immigration. The bulk of foreigners come from the EU member states, followed by Turkey and Ex-Yugoslavia. What most people (and most Germans) forget is that Germany has traditionally been a country with a large immigrant population.

  7. Okay, we all gripe a lot about a culture that overvalues self-esteem. But isn’t anyone bothered by what it says about a people (a vast number of people on many continents) that they do not feel they (whatever that means–their culture, their values, their gene pool) are worth reproducing (and, indeed, in some groups, defending)? It may be solipsism – only I in my time matters. It may be adolescent angst taking over an entire culture. But this sputtering out of the life force – surely the strongest and most powerful of our urges if one often at odds with our individual will, our individual selves – seems to me the great news of the late twentieth century. And I don’t see it as particularly good news.

    (Sure we aren’t packing ourselves up with bomb belts. Willing to lose oneself in a death cult may well be another manifestation. I wouldn’t venture an opinion. While I can understand the irritating Edna Pointellier, I can’t understand a woman dressing in festive wedding clothes, strapping on a bomb, and trying to destroy the lives of a wedding party. Such leaps of the imagination are a little beyond me at this point.)

  8. @ Solipson

    This is because Germany has been, in the last decennies, the worlds second largest immigrant country, after the U.S. (in absolut numbers).

    @ Ralf

    Thank you for your research on second-generation birthrates, this is very interesting. There should be much more research on these issues. Do you know Berlin Institute ( They made a forecast for German demographic development, region by region.

  9. The missing key in Europe is job growth and business formation. Again, I have only anecdotal information rather than statistics (and as we all know, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”). Immigrant groups in the US tend to find a niche to fill. Examples: small hotels/motels across the US are dominated by the Patel clan, originally from Gujarat. In Boston, most of the parking garages are operated by Ethiopians. I have seen a glossy magazine entitled “Korean Dry Cleaner.” West Coast software companies are often founded or run by Indian and Chinese immigrants.

    The unacknowledged engine of immigrant assimilation and prosperity is nepotism. If you can start a successful business, you can sponsor your relatives for immigration, hire them, and fund their ventures. Wealth brings acceptance and integration. If, instead, you make business formation nearly impossible and have 10% unemployment, you will see even greater unemployment at the margins. Those who already have a place in the economy will still practice nepotism and favor their friends, but there is no entry point for new players.

  10. Mitch, some more anecdotes (I know, proves nothing, but . . : In Texas, the state’s handbook and State Boards for manicurists & other nail workers are in several languages, but the biggest chunk are in Vietnamese.

    I was saddened Tuesday that the filling station (run by two charming brothers who are from Pakistan) we usually eat lunch is closing, as I was told in almost indecipherable English by their Mexican cook. He says the Chinese landlord is going to flatten it and put up some new business. Meanwhile, the cook explains to me that he has been looking at several places down the street to branch out and start his own business. Yes, opportunities remain. And these guys are working awfully awfully hard to find them.

  11. A post tangential to the search for metrics in the Islamization and demogrqaphic decline of Europe, but relevant to a variety of other recent threads on climate, declinist debate, and ongoing challenges of international politics.

    I’m watching a Book-TV/C-SPAN2 program from August, Harm De Blij – author of the leading textbook on World Regional Geography – talking about his new “Why Geography Matters.” De Blij is distinctly a man of mixed opinions, conveying the reboust simplisme of conventional opinion (Diamond’s “Collapse” is wonderful to him) and broad, arresting insight. It is the latter that makes this comment worth sharing since it sets me to wonder – and wonder hard enough to delve further.

    De Blij says recent evidence indicates that until a quick 50 year span, the Sahara was only a narrow barrier dividing Africa; before, a southern Savanna underlay the desert, and then th4e continent was easily traversable. Thus, only recently was it so firmly divided.

    Question – is this true? Implications?

    De Blij is of very conventional opinions on ACW (anthropogenic climate change) and therefore pretty boring, except that he’s also very aware of inscrutable inevitabilities like the next coming ice age. He’s mindful of competing imperatives. Otherwise, this man would be insufferable. Brian Fagen gets his nod for his account of the impact of the Little Ice Age on history. For instance, we all know that China reached Saudi Arabia, but then pulled back into isolationism, just as Europe began reaching out to the world. One of the pushes, however, was environmental. The climate cooling came to China somewhat later than in Europe. Wheat harvests failed in Northern China, the ships were brought back, canals and barges were built to feed 100 million via rice in the South. Thereby crisis was averted.

    Contemporarily, De Blij mentions the ominous political reception of his own published work in China. China has ambitions for borderland in India, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and even North. For example, his own books maps would have his maps names changed! Siberia was renamed “stolen lands.” When a major nation – in this case, a super power – channels its growing nationalism in such explicit ways, we’d better pay attention or be rudely surprised!

    De Blij maybe a conventional blowhard but he is also is mindful of empirical evidence, such as the growth of Islamic Jihad. For instance, he says, when first put on the map in 1986, its growth indicated that eventually it would leap the Atlantic. This was virtually an inescapable inference of the facts.

    To conclude, “Why Geography Matter” looks like it’s worth examining for its quirky insights, many of which bear on topics our blogging authors opine on with regularity. I’m convinced De Blij offers intriguing think-throughs for readers of ChicagoBoyz, if not the writers themselves.

  12. TJOlson — Thanks very much for this. I’d like to read the parts about China. De Blij may provide an interesting perspective.

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