Friday, October 19, 2012

Where David Goldman (Spengler) is wrong (I think)

I am a big fan of David Goldman (Spengler) who writes for Asia Times and First Things, among other publications. His recent book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying too) was a great read. On the whole I enjoyed it and learned a lot. I do not share his optimism about Israel and the USA, but on the whole he is making some great points. (I am, in the end, a neo-medievalist, after all.)

But there is a real problem here...I don't think his case that Islam is 'dying too' is really correct. Yes, there are some really low birth rates in Iran and a few other places, but let's take a look at the TFR (total fertility rate) of the world's eleven most populous Muslim-majority countries:

                Name             Population               TFR[1]         Net migration/1000 population
11.       Indonesia            204,847,000                        2.23                        -1.08
22.       Pakistan               178,097,000                        3.07                        -2
33.       Bangladesh         148,607,000                        2.55                        -1.04
44.       Egypt                     80,024,000                           2.94                        -0.2
55.       Iran                        74,819,000                           1.87                        -0.11
66.       Turkey                  74,660,000                           2.13                        0.5
77.       Algeria                  34,780,000                           2.78                        -0.27
88.       Morocco              32,381,000                           2.19                        -3.67
99.       Iraq                        31,108,000                           3.58                        0
110.   Sudan                   30,894,000                           4.17                        -4.52
111.   Afghanistan        29,047,000                           5.64                        -2.51

[1] From CIA World Factbook, estimates for 2010 or 2012.

And now note that of the eleven only one of them has a TFR below replacement, Iran. Meanwhile, countries like Afghanistan and Sudan are very high. Also note the net migration. With the exception of Turkey and Iraq, these countries are exporting large numbers of their uneducated Muslim population. And again, we are not taking into account Somalia or Yemen, both with high TFR and high net out-migration.

Where does this all point? It does not seem to me like Islam is dying too. Yes, the birth rates are declining, but in the populous countries they are all still well above replacement and these countries are exporting their Muslims to the world, and especially the West.

But maybe I'm missing something here. Dear David Goldman (Spengler), please let me know what it is that I am missing in these numbers. 


Samn! said...

Some of this depends on how you define replacement rate, which actually depends on the mortality rate of women of child-bearing age and younger. For industrialized countries with long life expectancies, replacement rate can be as low as 2.075, but in countries with low female life expectancy, such as Somalia, it can be as high as 3.3. The worldwide average is 2.3. It's likely, then, that Turkey, Morocco, and Indonesia in practice have sub-replacement fertility rates....

Abu Daoud said...

I think this is a good point Samn. Do you have replacement rate figures or know where someone can find them?

Samn! said...

Actually, I was wrong-- 'Total Fertility Rate' is the actual fertility rate modified relative to replacement rate, such that 2.0 is equal to replacement rate....... So you were right that only Iran currently has a negative fertility rate at the moment. I suppose Spengler might argue that the countries in question are trending downward in total fertility rate, but I dunno.....

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

If you do a Google search for terms such as "Population of Iran" you will end up in a tool that Google built to display data from the World Bank. Their TFR numbers are not the same. Some are higher. Most are slightly lower. You can also see the consistent downward trend in all the countries listed.

Here is a chart:!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=sp_dyn_tfrt_in&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=region&idim=country:IRN:IDN:EGY:IRQ:BGD:PAK:TUR:MAR:AFG:SDN&ifdim=region&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false