Muslim Demographics in Europe: Exaggerated Increase?
Kevin Kim, a friend of mine who once lived and taught in Korea but now does the same in the States, has recently expressed interest about translating a French article in the Courrier International by Pankaj Mishra titled "Le mythe de l’Europe islamisée" (September 17, 2009). Unless Kevin just enjoys doing that sort of thing, there's little need to translate the article into English since Google Translate does it well enough to convey the contents. Here's a sample sentence from "The myth of Europe Islamized," first in French, then in English:
Le taux de natalité chez les immigrés musulmans est en baisse et se rapproche des moyennes nationales, selon une récente étude publiée par le Financial Times.That was surprising to read since most of what I've looked at argues that the Muslim population will rise rather steeply over the next decades, with some scholars arguing that Europe will be largely Islamic by the end of this century. Let's take a look at the article that Mishra refers to. It's apparently from two years earlier, Simon Kuper's Financial Times article, "Head count belies vision of 'Eurabia'" (August 19, 2007), and the money quote is this:
The birth rate among Muslim immigrants is declining and is close to national averages, according to a recent study published by the Financial Times.
The US National Intelligence Council predicts there will be between 23m and 38m Muslims in the EU in 2025 -- 5-8 per cent of the population. But after 2025 the Muslim population should stop growing so quickly, given its falling birth-rate.The current population of the EU is around 500 million, so the 23 to 38 million does seem rather small, but one reason for uncertainty lies in the fact that "Few European states ask citizens about religious beliefs," as the article notes. The Financial Times article quotes several scholars, but not Charles F. Westoff and Tomas Frejka, "Religiousness and Fertility Among European Muslims," in Population and Development Review (Volume 33, Number 4 (2007): 785-809), probably because Kuper wasn't aware of their article, for it tends to support the view that Muslim fertility rates are falling throughout Europe. I can't access the entire article directly, but a summary is offered by Mary Mederios Kent in a short article from 2008 titled "Do Muslims Have More Children Than Other Women in Western Europe?" (Population Reference Bureau, February 2008):
Extremely low birth rates in most of Europe have fueled concerns about population decline, yet one segment of the continent's population -- Muslims -- continues to grow. The increasing number and visibility of Muslims in Western Europe, juxtaposed with the low fertility among non-Muslims, has led some Europeans to worry that the region will eventually have a Muslim majority, fundamentally changing Western European society. A new study by demographers Charles Westoff and Tomas Frejka challenges this common perception and suggests that the fertility gap between Muslims and non-Muslims is shrinking.I have no expertise in statistics, but I see that these studies are expressed rather cautiously, more so than the views of some of those who cite them as proof that Islamophobic alarmists have been exaggerating the expected Muslim increase in Europe. Doug Sanders sounds rather careful, though, citing Westoff and Frejka in his article for The Globe and Mail, "The 'Eurabia' myth deserves a debunking" (September 20, 2008):
A recent study, Religiousness and Fertility among European Muslims, by demographers Charles Westoff and Tomas Frejka, documents this. Populations need to have 2.1 children per family to keep from shrinking. Among Turks in Germany -- one of the longest-standing Muslim immigrant populations in Europe -- the rate has fallen to 1.9 children from 4.4 in 1970. Turks in Switzerland also have 1.9, while those in the Netherlands have 1.6, fewer than white British people do. Muslim women in France have 2.2 children, barely more than non-Muslim women there, and that number is falling.But Sanders can also sound extreme:
Europe once faced a genuine fundamentalist threat, in the face of a declining population. From 1345 to 1750, the continent's population barely grew, and the church, a murderous, terrorist, woman-hating force, seized considerable power. It was not Christian culture, but rather the opposition to this Christian threat, that made Europe great: The Enlightenment not only destroyed the church as a power, but also created the fertility boom.I'm not sure how Europe's "declining population" also "barely grew," but Sanders isn't being especially careful in this passage. He uses the 'information,' nevertheless, to project confidence in Europe's secular future:
If Europeans, under similar demographic distress, were able to fend off a threatening political movement within a faith that was then held by almost 100 per cent of the population, they shouldn't have much to fear from a vanishing movement inside a 4-per-cent minority.So . . . who's right? I don't know. I simply have to confess ignorance on the issue of Islam's future in Europe.
Any experts out there to enlighten me?