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Saturday, January 04, 2014 

The numbers don't lie about demographics

Israel HaYom interviewed David Goldman, columnist and author of How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is dying too). He told them the following:
You surprised me in all that regards Islam. It has been known for some time that Europe is sinking demographically, but that this should be extended to the Muslims, too?

Indeed, Muslim birthrates are falling even in Europe. The single factor that best explains fertility across the whole Muslim world is literacy. Just on a purely statistical basis one can explain 60 percent of the variations of fertility on the base of literacy. And where you have detailed data, for example in Iran or Turkey, you can show a very strong differential in fertility between women with an elementary school education, a high school education and a college education. This is also exactly what is happening in Israel, and in Judea and Samaria. I am aware that convergence of fertility is an enormously controversial issue. Yet it is clear that there has been a convergence.

What about Iran?

In the case of Iran, we have something that has literally never been seen in all of world history, astounding demographers. The average Iranian comes from a family of seven children. For the average Iranian today, if you exclude some of the minorities, fertility is 1.6 to 1.7.

The Iranian leadership speaks about this issue publically and warns against a demographic catastrophe. Now, the west has a demographic problem too, but for a rich country and a poor country this is somewhat different. On current trends, by 2040 Iran will have an elderly-dependent ratio of 30%. And this is in a country with a personal income of merely a tenth of the United States! Going from 8% of elderly dependence in 2005 to 30% in 2040 -- this is a catastrophe. No poor country in the world can deal with that kind of problem. So at this point it becomes a major strategic factor. From the grim viewpoint of the current Iranian leadership, this encourages adventurism.

I do not view demographics as destiny, but I do think that it is an important factor in Iranian calculations. They are at the peak of their power; they have a big young generation; they feel they have the historic opportunity to establish Shiite dominance in the Middle East. If they lose this opportunity now, they may never have another. So their willingness to take risks, including risks related to developing weapons, supporting terrorism, intervening in Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere, is all the greater.
The problem with Iran's dictatorship is that they're willing to commit forms of suicide like shahidism in order to destroy Israel and the west. It may be good news that their birthrate is plummeting, but for now, they're still very extremely dangerous.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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