This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Muddling Toward a Syrian Refugee Solution

It seems reasonable to me that the current flood of refugees and other migrants to Europe would not have occurred were we not now in the 4th year of a civil war in Syria. Yes, there would be many migrants heading to Europe, as there have been for many years now, but the current crisis is largely a result of the mess in Syria. As I have noted before, this could be a demographic boon for Germany (and other European countries on the precipice of population decline). But, as the NYTimes and everyone else notes today, there is no real consensus in Europe about how to proceed--especially how many to let in, and where will they go? For receiving countries, this will not be an easy project--a surge of immigrants never is. Abu Daoud provided a link to a very interesting Op-Ed piece about "Germany's Coming Demographic Revolution" that speaks to this issue.
Before 2015, Germany’s Muslim population was around 5 percent of the whole, potentially rising to 7 percent or so by 2030 [Note--see the Pew/IIASA projections that came out earlier this year]. If the present wave of migrants and refugees continues, that figure could well be 15 or 20 percent by the 2030s, and it would be rising fast. For the first time ever, we would seriously be looking at something like the Islamization of Europe that has been a nativist nightmare for a generation. And in the German context, that process would be squeezed into just a couple of decades. That is radically destabilizing.
Personally, I don’t believe that the presence of Islam in Europe need of itself be harmful or even negative, nor that it would necessarily lead to violence. But I am quite certain that numerical changes on this scale do portend a cultural and social revolution without precedent.
Shouldn’t the Germans, and other Europeans, at least be allowed to discuss this openly?
I think that this is a reasonable point. Not all of the refugees are Muslim, of course, and while that shouldn't matter, the point I've often made is that "differences" matter when it comes to immigrants, whether it's language, religion, status of women, or anything else. These issues need to be out in the open in order to promote accommodation, adaptation, and integration, rather than discrimination and ghettoization.

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