Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Hans Rosling: Religions and babies"

I'd like to thank Will Baird for pointing me towards this 2012 TED talk by the Gapminder Foundation's Hans Rosling, examining the question of the relationship between religion and fertility.


Abu Daoud said...

He is a bit off, but this was a very short presentation. People who are devout (regardless of whether Jew or Christian or whatever) tend to have more kids. So there is a correlation between religiousness and children, if not religion and TFR.

jemand said...

From what I understand Abu Daoud, that is a recent effect that is diminishing. Kind of like how the fertility of immigrants tends to close in on the host country instead of remaining high in perpetuity.

I don't have the stats close at hand though, do you?

Anonymous said...

Why the labels: eurabia, islam, religion?

Oh wait, I see. You just proved all those evil rightwing conspiracy fools wrong.

I'm sorry, but Hans Rosling is deliberately silly in this video.
Who on earth divides the world into just three religions. Who on earth compares european christianity with christianity in africa.
Daoud is right; religousness is interesting.

An how can a blog normally very eager to be precise, take it seriosly just to look at countries by majority religion and then draw conclusions.
Hey, here is a question; what if there are differences between minority religions and majority.

And by the way; you are kicking in an open door. Very few people are claiming that;
- fertility is not dropping
- that immigrants are not closing in on the host country
- that fertility is not on the decline in the muslim world.

The fact is that even though we see these trends;
- there are still going to be some very signifant and troublesome changes in the demographic composition of most western countries
- TFR are declining - yes, but it is still very high for many countries and many immigrant population (+ they are young) and this doesn't change overnight.
Despite the declining population growth rate, these groups will grow enourmously.

Randy McDonald said...

"You just proved all those evil rightwing conspiracy fools wrong."

No, I've done that already, as have many others. As it happens, Eurabian propagandists won't accept any proof since theirs is an irrational reflex.

"Hans Rosling is deliberately silly in this video."

I'm not sure how you can conclude that--the people who give TED talks are almost always serious about their subject matter.

"Who on earth divides the world into just three religions."

The people who don't distinguish between European and Middle Eastern Christians or European and Middle Eastern Muslims do. To whit, see their use of the contested term "dhimmi", surely something only relevant to minorities in the Middle East, as applied to non-Christians in Europe.

"Despite the declining population growth rate, these groups will grow enourmously."

From very low levels. See

for instance.

"Western Europe, which includes France, Germany and the Netherlands, is expected to have the biggest numerical increase in the size of its Muslim population. The number of Muslims living in this part of Europe is projected to increase by 5.1 million, from 11.3 million in 2010 to 16.4 million in 2030. The Muslim share of Western Europe’s total population is expected to increase from 6.0% in 2010 to 8.6% in 2030.

The number of Muslims living in Northern Europe, which includes the United Kingdom, is expected to increase from 3.8 million in 2010 to 7.5 million in 2030. Muslims are expected to make up 7.0% of Northern Europe’s population, up from 3.8% in 2010.

The number of Muslims in Southern Europe – which includes Balkan countries such as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, as well as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – is projected to increase by 3.1 million, from 10.7 million in 2010 to 13.8 million in 2030. Southern Europe as a whole has a higher proportion of Muslims than Eastern Europe; 6.9% of the population in Southern Europe today is Muslim, compared with 6.2% of the population in Eastern Europe. By 2030, 8.8% of people living in Southern Europe are expected to be Muslim, compared with 7.6% of the population in Eastern Europe.

Most of the growth in Eastern Europe’s Muslim population during the decades studied occurred from 1990 to 2000, when the percentage of Muslims in the population jumped from 4.9% to 6.2%. This increase followed the collapse of communism, when religious identity and expression became more acceptable throughout Eastern Europe. The total number of Muslims in Eastern Europe is expected to increase from 18.4 million in 2010 to 20.6 million in 2030."

These percentages are large, but even if you tunnel down to the level of countries, you still don't get very sharp increases predicted.

Randy McDonald said...

And, it's worth noting, these percentages start from a very low level.

jemand said...

Hans Rosling certainly isn't being silly, but I do think his talk is quite simplistic and introductory. Though this is a general problem I've noticed of the venue, TED talks never have enough time to get into the depth of a subject. Then again that is not their purpose.

I also am amused at the somewhat moving goal posts involved... at one point the argument *would* have been made that muslim fertility in general was a civilization destroying horror that would never fall... and then it did in most majority-Muslim countries.

Now the claim has to be changed because of undeniable facts, but the core still is "the wrong kind of women are having the wrong number of children and this is going to DESTROY society!"

Dressed up in whatever thing it's supposed to wear that day.

I know Europe has had more trouble integrating immigrants than the US in some respects, and the difference in religiosity between immigrants and the population is much higher in Europe than in the US... but even so, the Muslim populations who have experienced natural increase in European countries, are likely to be more secular, and more integrated culturally, than the population today. And, it's not exactly a disaster having them there now, whatever European racists might like to claim.

Richard said...

This is not convinced. It is clear that certain religious groups have more children. In the USA for example Mormons and Muslims have bigger families than others:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have much bigger families than others both in the diaspora and in Israel.

This is so despite socio-economic circumstances being similar to other groups.

Anonymous said...

@ Randy

Thanks for nothing.

Your answer dont relate at all to the arguments i'm making.

Hans Rosling little show is stupid.
And so is your answer when you seriously write stuff like;

"Who on earth divides the world into just three religions."

The people who don't distinguish between European and Middle Eastern Christians or European and Middle Eastern Muslims do. To whit, see their use of the contested term "dhimmi", surely something only relevant to minorities in the Middle East, as applied to non-Christians in Europe.

Thats not really any kind of answer. And the fact that you have to fight against som imaginary enemy is not a good sign is it?

Anonymous said...


Funny how you dont at all comment on the difference between looking at a silly three-religion-world-model and the importance of religoushness.

Hans Rosling is saying nothing that is not totally clear for everybode and have been so for a long time; fertility has been falling for most of the world.

That is however not the same thing as saying religion dont have any role to play.

georgesdelatour said...

I think you're being rather blasé about numbers.

Relatively small communities can make themselves disproportionately influential if they unite around a single issue and are passionate enough. Small religious parties in Israel like Shas (or The Worldwide Sephardic Association of Torah Guardians) have been vital coalition partners in many Israeli governments. Shas is "the unofficial kingmaker of Israeli politics" (Jewish Daily Forward). Opinion polls show that what Shas want - more religion in public life - is the polar opposite of what most Israelis want. But it's what most Israelis get, because of the practical necessities of forming governing coalitions.

Another striking example of this is the US Cuban population. They represent only around half a percent of the US population, 70% concentrated in the vital swing state of Florida. Most Americans want normalised relations with Cuba. Most Cuban Americans don't, and, again, they're virtually single issue voters. So the 0.5% gets its way.

In the UK, Respect won its first MP in 2005 in Bethnal Green - a ward with a very high proportion of Muslim voters. Respect unseated Oona King, who is half-Jewish. There were allegations that, on the doorstep, Respect made her Jewishness a key issue ( King was also a Blair loyalist who supported the Iraq War, and this was definitely a strong factor too. But the UK's major parties have taken note, and they're now less likely to put forward Jewish candidates in constituencies with sizeable Muslim populations.

Anonymous said...

If human population dynamics is essentially common to the propulation dynamics of other species and, consequently, if food supply is the independent not the dependent variable in the relationship between food and population, then a lot of what has been reported could be distractions that serve to dismiss rather than disclose vital but unwelcome science of what could somehow be real regarding the human population and, more importantly, why our behavior is so utterly destructive of everything we claim to be protecting and preserving. May I make a request? Could we focus now, here, on whether or not human exceptionalism applies to its population dynamics alone or is the dynamics of all species, including human beings, similar? Whatever your response, please make reference to scientific research that supports your point of view.

It seems to me that if we keep engaging in and hotly pursuing worldwide overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities, distinctly human activities that cannot be sustained much longer on a planet with size, compostion and ecology of Earth, then the human species is a clear and present danger on our watch to future human well being, life as we know it, and environmental health. If we can see ourselves to be 'the problem', then it is incumbent upon us to bring forward the best available evidence from science, especially when that evidence happens to relate directly to why we are pursuing a soon to become, patently unsustainable (superhigh)way of life. A tip of the hat is due Rachel Carson for making me aware of the superhighway. Should humankind emerge from 'the bottleneck' E.O. Wilson imagines for us in the future and somehow escape the precipitation of our near-term extinction, how are those survivors to organize life sustainably and not repeat the mistakes we are making now... and have been making for a long time? Without knowledge of why we are doing what we are doing, every one of us is forever trapped in an eternal recurrence of unsustainable life cycles, I suppose.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Salmony

PS: Rachel Carson's quote,

We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one "less traveled by"—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.
Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964)

Anonymous said...

The AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population was founded in 2001. Since that moment I have seen it as a moral imperative to continue the work I’ve been doing for many years now: getting the message out and explaining to as many people as possible that human overpopulation of the Earth is occurring on our watch, that it poses profound existential risks for future human well being, life as we know it and environmental health, and that robust action is required starting here, starting now to honestly acknowledge, humanely address and eventually overcome.