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, December 29, 2014

German Xenophobia

While the current xenophobia in Germany is not an exploitation of the holiday season, it is nonetheless about religion. As the Economist explains, the current backlash against immigrants who are  Muslim is coming especially from the eastern part of Germany, which has only a very small immigrant population.
CALLING themselves Pegida, or “patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident”, since October they have marched through Dresden every Monday. Their numbers are growing: on December 15th 15,000 protested. Their slogans of xenophobic paranoia (“No sharia in Europe!”) seem bizarre in Saxony, where only 2% of the population is foreign and fewer than 1% are Muslim.
Germany remains a tolerant place, one reason why some 465,000 migrants arrived last year, making it the world’s second most popular destination after America. But Pegida is a reminder that many, especially in eastern Germany, harbour resentments that can be exploited. “We are the people,” the marchers in Dresden shouted. It was the phrase East Germans used in 1989 in protest against their communist overlords. To outsiders, the cry now sounds chilling.
This is not new to Germany, of course. I blogged about German xenophobia (aimed specifically at immigrants from Turkey) more than four years ago. Religion is always an issue. We only have to think back to the backlash against eastern and southern European immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20h centuries who were predominantly Catholic--from Ireland and Italy, in particular. This led to the country's very restrictive immigration laws between 1929 and 1965. Indeed, when John F. Kennedy ran for President, there were people who were convinced that a Catholic could not and should not be President, for fear that he would answer to the Pope, not to the American public. You might say to yourself, well, we're beyond that, but on the other hand, JFK is the only Catholic president that the US has ever had.


  1. Hi Dr Weeks,

    I'm wondering if you have any good information on what Europe will look like demographically c. 2100. I remember a Pew study that showed a steady (but not drastic) growth in the Muslim population, but it only went out to 2030. There is a silly video on Youtube about the topic but it is ridiculous.

    I have not heard anyone that contests the following two points: 1) That the white European population is well below TFR, and 2) that the Muslim population, through fertility and immigration, will continue to grow indefinitely. Do you know of any evidence that contradicts these two points?

    As always, thanks for the blog.

    Abu Daoud

    1. It's always good to keep in mind the old the old Chinese proverb: “Prediction is very difficult—especially with regard to the future.” It's hard to tell what Europe will be in 2100. It's already vastly different than at the end of WWII. But, having said that, I have seen no evidence to contradict your two points.

    2. Thank you John, but the UN and the US Census Bureau (I think) does provide three possible projections through the distant future (well, 2100 or so). Given the two (very reasonable assumptions) above, what would a projection look like? If you did that work and wrote that article (or book) on Europe in 2100, you would have BBC and CNN begging for interviews. A lot of people want to know about this topic. I can't think of anyone better to do it than you.

    3. The Census Bureau only goes out to 2050, whereas the UN goes out to 2100. They project that Germany's population will drop from its current 83 million down to 57 million, because they assume that fertility will, in the aggregate, remain well below replacement level. Will that happen? Who knows?

  2. Did Germany really absorb almost half a million immigrants last year? Their country generated jobs for an extra 500,000 people, on top of the jobs needed for their own people? That is amazing!! I suspect that jobs and the economy have much to do - with the apparent xenophobia.

    Pete, Redondo Beach, CA

    1. Well, that is actually a good question, as it turns out. I admit I accepted the Economist's number without double-checking. It turns out that neither the UN Population Division nor the Migration Policy Institute database support that high a number. Their numbers are closer to 100k per year. But the news media are intent on the half million number, and it may be that this year has seen an influx that databases have yet to pick up.