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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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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Monday, May 27, 2013

Yet Another Chapter in Europe's Struggle With Immigrants

Christopher Caldwell's book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, came out four years ago, but the theme remains important. As tolerant as Europeans generally are toward immigration, their historical lack of experience with immigration has created a variety of problems. Often the problem is a backlash from the native population that resents the immigrants, but there is also backlash from the immigrants over their perception of how they are being treated. This latter issue popped up in Sweden a few days ago, according to the New York Times.
In Stockholm and other towns and cities last week, bands made up mostly of young immigrants set buildings and cars ablaze in a spasm of destructive rage rarely seen in a country proud of its normally tranquil, law-abiding ways.
The disturbances, with echoes of urban eruptions in France in 2005 and Britain in 2011, have pushed Sweden to the center of a heated debate across Europe about immigration and the tensions it causes in a time of deep economic malaise.
You can appreciate that in a country that has been unusually accepting of and generous toward immigrants, especially those from troubled middle eastern countries, there is genuine puzzlement about this.
“I don’t know why anybody would want to burn our school,” Ms. Bromster [school principal] said. “I can’t understand it. Maybe they are not so happy with life.”
The most often asserted explanation is the relatively high unemployment rate among younger immigrants, but as I have noted before, the biggest issue is xenophobia--it just takes time for people to get used to one another. And by "time" I mean perhaps a generation or more. This is unlikely to be easy.

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