A Demographic Shift in the Muslim World

(Washington Post) David Ignatius - According to Nicholas Eberstadt, a leading demographer and a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a "sea change" is producing a sharp decline in Muslim fertility rates and a "flight from marriage" among Arab women. Using data for 49 Muslim-majority countries and territories, he found that fertility rates declined an average of 41% between 1975-80 and 2005-10, a deeper drop than the 33% decline for the world as a whole. 22 Muslim countries and territories had fertility declines of 50% or more. "Fertility decline over the past generation has been more rapid in the Arab states than virtually anywhere else on earth." Fertility in Iran declined 70% over a 30-year period, "one of the most rapid and pronounced fertility declines ever recorded in human history," falling below replacement level by 2000. The Arab world may be experiencing a youth bulge now, fueling popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. But as Eberstadt notes, what's ahead over the next generation will probably be declines in the number of working-age adults and rapidly aging populations.

2013-02-11 00:00:00

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