Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Someone In The Middle East Is Suffering A Population Implosion--And It's Not Israel

Yoram Ettinger writes:
Just as the world at large is experiencing an unprecedented collapse of demography, the UN Population Division reports a sharp decline of fertility rates (number of births per woman) in Muslim and Arab countries, excluding Afghanistan and Yemen.

...THE collapse of fertility rates in Muslim countries is a derivative of modernization and Westernization, rapid urbanization and internal security concerns by dictators fearing the consequences of the widening gap between population growth and economic growth. As a result, the UN Population Division has reduced its 2050 population projections by 25 percent, from 12 billion to 9 billion, possibly shrinking to 7.4 billion.

For instance, the fertility rate in Iran - the flagship of radical Islam - has declined from nine births per woman, 30 years ago, to 1.8 births in 2007. The Muslim religious establishment has also played a key role in decreasing fertility rates in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, from eight and seven births per woman 30 years ago, to less than four and less than 2.5 respectively in 2007.

Jordan, which is demographically close to Judea and Samaria, and Syria have demonstrated a diminished fertility rate: from eight, 30 years ago, to less than 3.5 in 2007. A substantial dive of fertility rates in Muslim countries - trending toward two births per woman - is documented by the Population Resource Center in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, closer to home in the West Bank:
The decline in fertility and population growth rates has resulted from escalating emigration (which has characterized the region since 1950), accelerated urbanization (70% rural in 1967 and 60% urban in 2008), the expansion of education infrastructure, especially among women, the entrenchment of career mentality; the increase of median-marriage-age, an all-time high divorce rate, the contraction of teenage pregnancy and the UNRWA/PA-led family planning campaign.

The sharp lowering of fertility rate among "Green Line" (pre-1967 Israel) Arabs, from nine births per woman in 1969 to 3.5 in 2007, has been the outcome of their successful integration into Israel's education, employment, commerce, health, banking, cultural, political and sports infrastructures. The annual number of Arab births stabilized at approximately 39,000 between 1995-2007. The Arab fertility rate converges swiftly toward the Jewish fertility rate (2.8 births per woman).

No mention is made to Gaza in the entire article, but with Palestinian vs Palestinian violence and emigration it's not difficult to guess which way the demographics are trending.

The upshot of the importance of all of this?
Israel's policy-makers and public opinion-molders should base their assessments on thoroughly-documented demographic optimism and not on baseless demographic fatalism, in order to avoid erroneous assumptions, which yield erroneous and self-destructive policy decisions.
You mean like the decisions that have been made so far?

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