Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the Maltese immigrants in North Africa

The country of Malta has had many representations. Most recently, after its accession to the European Union in 2004 and to the Eurozone in 2008 while it became a major transit point and inadvertant destination for migrants, it has been imagined as a destination for migrants, perhaps peculiarly vulnerable owing to its small size and relatively tenuous economic state and national identity. Malta, as represented in the press, might be a beseiged battlement of Fortress Europe, located perilously close to the North African coast.

That's not the only way it's been seen. In fact, this time last century the situation was precisely the reverse. As small islands sometimes overpopulated relative to the productive capacity of their once-agricultural/military-driven economy part of the British global empire, from the mid-19th century on Malta experienced massive emigration, tens after tens of thousands of Maltese emigrants making their way throughout the British Empire and later Commonwealth and beyond. Some settled in Canada, for instance, the nucleus of the Maltese-Canadian community (as described by Shawn Micallef) lying here in Toronto just a couple of subway stops to the west of my home beyond its eventual dispersal. Many Maltese chose not to leave home so far behind and instead immigrated to French North Africa, to the Algeria colonized since 1830 and the Tunisia made a protectorate from 1881. There, Maltese immigrants came to play critical roles in the colonization of North African territories at a time when population pressures in Europe made the organized settlement of the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea by Europeans seem a sensible idea.

Algeria was for many years the most important country for Maltese migration within the zone of the Mediterranean. Under various aspects it was also the most successful and statistics show that by the middle of the nineteenth century more than half of Malta's emigrants had chosen Algeria as their country of residence. Although the French conquest had began in 1830, some Maltese had found their way to the area around the city of Constantine before the French connection had began. In 1834 a French governor for North Africa had been appointed, and as the French consolidated their foothold on Algerian territory, Europeans followed the French tricolor. Among the Europeans the Maltese were one of the largest groups, being outnumbered only by Spaniards and Sicilians.

Like all newcomers, the Maltese in Algeria did at first encounter hostility from the French. Continental Europeans looked down on other Europeans who came from the islands such as the Sicilians and the Maltese. It is true to admit that most insular Europeans were poor and illiterate. Some did have a criminal record and were only too ready to carry on with their way of life in other parts of the Mediterranean where their names were not publicly known.

French official policy was dictated by sheer necessity. France was a large and prosperous country. Its population was not enormous and many French peasants were quite happy with their lot. If the French needed colonists to make their presence permanent they had to turn to other sources to obtain their manpower. The French Consul in Malta was in favour of encouraging Maltese emigrants to settle in Algeria. He believed that the Maltese showed a distinct liking for France and the French. Although the Maltese under the British, they were not politically active and the French could accept them without any fear.

Another important man who favoured Maltese emigration to North Africa in general and to Algeria in particular was the prominent French churchman, Cardinal Charles Lavigeric who had dreams of converting the Maghreb back to Christianity. Lavigerie saw North Africa in historical terms as he was professor of Church history. He founded a religious order which was . commonly called "The White Fathers" with scope of spreading Christianity among the .Berbers and the Arabs. Cardinal Lavigerie was archbishop of Carthage and Algiers. In 1882 Cardinal Lavigerie visited Malta. He immediately appreciated the Catholic fervour of the islanders. During his stay he talked of the Maltese as providential instruments meant to augment the Christian population of French North Africa. He saw the Maltese as loyal to France and to the Catholic Church and at the same time as being eminently useful in building some form of communication with the Arab masses.

[. . .]

By 1847 the number of Maltese living in Algeria was calculated at 4,610. The Maltese colony in Algeria had been realised as being of some importance by that date, so much so that Maltese church leaders decided to send two priests during Lent to deliver sermons in Maltese.

In a letter written by the Governor General of ,Algeria on June 17, 1903, it was stated that by then there were 15,000 inhabitants who claimed Maltese origin. Most of these were small farmers, fishermen and traders. As in other parts of North Africa, the Maltese ability to speak in three or four languages helped them to get on well with the French, Spaniards, Italians and Arabs.

In 1926 the number of ethnic Maltese living in Algeria and Tunisia was tentatively calculated at about 30,000. The exact number of Maltese in was impossible to arrive at because many Maltese had opted for French nationality. By 1927 the Maltese were considered as excellent settlers who worked very hard and were honest in their dealings with others. This was the judgement given by Monsieur Emile Morinaud, a Deputy for Algiers in Paris. In a speech delivered by Morinaud on November 30, 1927, the French politician declared the Maltese as being "French at heart".

Settlement in Tunisia began later.

When Napoleon Bonaparte captured Malta from the Knights of St. John in 1798 he ordered the Bay of Tunis to free all the Maltese slaves who languished in jail. At least fifty such slaves returned to Malta. For centuries the Maltese who found themselves in Tunis probably did so against their will. With the advent of the Napoleonic Era and the re-structuring of political power in Europe and along the shores of the Mediterranean, the pirates of Tunis lost their trade. The foothold gained by the French in North Africa changed the political framework of the Maghreb and some Europeans thought, somewhat prematurely, that the Mediterranean was to enter into another Roman Epoch. with peace reigning all along its coasts.

The Maltese were among the first to venture in their speronaras into Tunisian waters. They traded with coastal towns and with the island of Jerba. Eventually they established settlements not only in Tunis and on jerba but also in Susa, Monastir, Mehdia and Sfax. By 1842 there were about 3,000 Maltese in the Regency. In less than twenty years their numbers increased to 7,000.

[. . .]

The French had one serious preoccupation in Tunisia. Italian immigrants had settled there in their thousands and Italy had coveted Tunisia for a very long time. The French occupation of Tunisia had gone down very badly with the Italians. The French wanted the Maltese to act as a counter-balance to the Italians. British consular statistics show that by the beginning of the twentieth century there were 15,326 Maltese living in Tunisia.

The Maltese in Tunisia worked on farms, on the railways, in the ports and in small industries. They introduced different types of fruit trees which they had brought with them from Malta. Moreover contact between Malta and Tunisia was constant because the small boats owned by the Maltese, popularly known as speronaras, constantly plied the narrow waters between Tunisia and the Maltese Islands.

Paul Cambon referred to the Maltese living in Tunisia as the "Anglo-Maltese Element". He was grateful that such an element proved to be either loyal to France or at least was politically neutral. In spite of rampant anti-clericalism in France, the French allowed the Maltese complete freedom of their religion. Cardinal Lavigerie was respected. The fiery leader of French anti-clericalism, Leon Gambetta, did not hesitate to state that when French priests spread not only religion but French culture, then they were to be allowed to carry on with their work without any restraint.

After 1900 it became legally possible for foreigners to buy land in Tunisia. After that year there was a number of Maltese landowners in that country. In 1912 trade between Tunisia and Malta had risen to more than two million francs. Cultural ties were kept alive by the frequent visits brass bands from Malta which were often invited to cross the water to help create a festive -mood when the Maltese in Tunisia celebrated the feast of their parish. On April 10, 1926, a Maltese newspaper commented on a visit made by the French President to Tunisia. The newspaper claimed that the President, Emile Loubet, had eulogised the Maltese as "a model colony".

Go, read, and reflect on the interesting ways in which history can more than reverse itself in short periods of time. Malta wasn't the territory experiencing pressure from ill-regulated immigration; Maltese, rather, were settlers making new homes in the conquered territories just beyond the horizon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joe Sacco, "Not in my country"

A tweet from Torontonian (and Maltese-Canadian) Shawn Micallef pointed me to the news that two Libyan fighter jet pilots defected (with their pilots) Monday, and one Libyan warship following yesterday. This latest episode in Libyan-Maltese relations ads a new twist in relations between the two countries, in the 1970s and 1980s quite close owing to Maltese left-wing politician Dom Mintoff's desire to move beyond dependence on Britain and Libyan interest in establishing a close relationship with some country.

This is the latest episode in unexpected--unregulated--migration from Libya to Malta. I'd like to point our readers to Maltese-American graphic novelist Joe Sacco's 2010 graphic novel "Not in my country", available online at the website of the Guardian and providing an affecting and information look on the phenomenon of unregulated/irregular/illegal migration to Malta.

From Joe Sacco, "Not in my country"

While trans-Mediterranean migration is a major issue for southern Europe, it's a particular issue for a small insular Malta that already has one of the higher population densities in Europe and few ways for these migrants to make it to the European mainland--an Italy that would be the logical (and, likely, preferable) next step is unreachable. Sacco goes into detail in his work.

Go, read.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Some Libya notes

  • It may not be well-known that plans were made, during the brief three decades of Italian rule, to engage in the extensive colonization of Libya, in many respects as thorough and disruptive as French colonization as neighbouring Algeria.

  • Once pacification had been accomplished, fascist Italy endeavored to convert Libya into an Italian province to be referred to popularly as Italy's Fourth Shore. In 1934 Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were divided into four provinces--Tripoli, Misratah, Benghazi, and Darnah--which were formally linked as a single colony known as Libya, thus officially resurrecting the name that Diocletian had applied nearly 1,500 years earlier. Fezzan, designated as South Tripolitania, remained a military territory. A governor general, called the first consul after 1937, was in overall direction of the colony, assisted by the General Consultative Council, on which Arabs were represented. Traditional tribal councils, formerly sanctioned by the Italian administration, were abolished, and all local officials were thereafter appointed by the governor general. Administrative posts at all levels were held by Italians.

    [. . .]

    During the 1930s, impressive strides were made in improving the country's economic and transportation infrastructure. Italy invested capital and technology in public works projects, extension and modernization of cities, highway and railroad construction, expanded port facilities, and irrigation, but these measures were introduced to benefit the Italian-controlled modern sector of the economy. Italian development policy after World War I had called for capital-intensive "economic colonization" intended to promote the maximum exploitation of the resources available. One of the initial Italian objectives in Libya, however, had been the relief of overpopulation and unemployment in Italy through emigration to the undeveloped colony. With security established, systematic "demographic colonization" was encouraged by Mussolini's government. A project initiated by Libya's governor, Italo Balbo, brought the first 20,000 settlers--the ventimilli--to Libya in a single convoy in October 1938. More settlers followed in 1939, and by 1940 there were approximately 110,000 Italians in Libya, constituting about 12 percent of the total population. Plans envisioned an Italian colony of 500,000 settlers by the 1960s. Libya's best land was allocated to the settlers to be brought under productive cultivation, primarily in olive groves. Settlement was directed by a state corporation, the Libyan Colonization Society, which undertook land reclamation and the building of model villages and offered a grubstake and credit facilities to the settlers it had sponsored.

    The Italians made modern medical care available for the first time in Libya, improved sanitary conditions in the towns, and undertook to replenish the herds and flocks that had been depleted during the war. But, although Mussolini liked to refer to the Libyans as "Muslim Italians," little more was accomplished that directly improved the living standards of the Arab population. Beduin life was disrupted as tribal grazing lands--considered underutilized by European standards but potentially fertile if reclaimed--were purchased or confiscated for distribution to Italian settlers. Complete neglect of education for Arabs prevented the development of professional and technical training, creating a shortage of skilled workers, technicians, and administrators that had not been alleviated in the late 1980s. Sanusi leaders were harried out of the country, lodges broken up, and the order suppressed, although not extinguished.

    This photo post examining the hybridity of the homes built in Cyrenaica, in the east, to house the new Italian residents of confiscated Arab land is worth looking at. Gary Fowler's study of colonization in Tripolitania, the western Libyan region at the heart of modern Libya and the Italian colonial enterprise, is likewise worthwhile.

  • Meanwhile, over at my own blog I've a brief post up pointing out that the Libyan state is a very recent creation; unlike the other polities of North Africa, modern Libya as a single state as opposed to a broad region dates back securely only to the 1930s, with identities overlapping state boundaries.

  • Ottoman_Provinces_Of_Present_day_Libyapng

  • Back here, in November 2009 I speculated that Italian-era links with Eritrea and Somalia might explain a predominance of Eritreans and Somalis trying to make it to Italy. That doesn't seem to be the case, but Libya retains the potential--suppressed only under Gadaffi at Italy's behest--of becoming a destination of transit migrants from Africa as a whole, as well as a destination for migrants in itself.

  • The Yorkshire Ranter took a look at one interesting form of migration to Libya that's come into prominence recently, that of the mercenary from Africa or elsewhere hired to repress Libyans.

  • In Libya this week, it is said that the government is using mercenaries recruited from its various allies’ wars in sub-Saharan Africa as arseholes, and that it’s paying $500 a day for their services. Libyan per capita GDP is $14,884 at purchasing-power parity, so the price of privatised violence is running at a premium of over one hundred times typical earnings. Clearly, either the regime has so much less real legitimacy, or the degree of brutality required and risk involved is that much higher. In fact, those options are both consistent, as a regime with less legitimacy would need to use more force and it does seem to be doing just that.

    I made the point last time out that it’s typical for mercenaries to be very highly paid relative to the countries in which they operate. This is clearly an important point here. It’s also true that Gadhafi’s Libya has often got other people to fight its battles for it – they exported Palestinians into a variety of different wars in the 1970s and 80s, notably sending PLO volunteers to prop up Idi Amin (you bet they didn’t sign on for that). Later, in the 1990s, they trained and equipped fighters in the various West African civil wars (notably Charles Taylor – there’s an arsehole for you). Now they’re doing the opposite.

    Of course, being an oil state, they can probably afford to keep hiring the arseholes.

  • This poster is skeptical about the idea of African mercenaries, suggesting that the idea fits into an established tradition of Libyan anti-black racism and making the point that the vast majority of sub-Saharan Africans living in Libya are work migrants.
  • Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    The latest on Canada's changing census

    The metaphorical aftershocks of the Canadian government's decision to forego the mandatory long-form census in favour of a voluntary household survey, triggering the resignation of then-Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh and creating one of the more unusual national political controversies in recent Canadian history, continued today with the interview of Wayne Smith, the new Chief Statistician of Canada with The Globe and Mail's Ottawa reporters Steven Chase and Tavia Grant. Smith valiantly makes the point that the shift won't inevitably lead to lower-quality data, that if enough organizations and enough people are mobilized to encourage people to participate in the voluntary census there wouldn't inevitably be a drop-off in data quality, that things won't necessarily be bad. He doesn't exclude, however, the very strong likelihood that data quality will drop off significantly.

    For instance.

    Are you telling me that we’re going to get just as many Inuit, just as many unemployed, just as many people who don’t speak English and are immigrants.

    I am saying that either I nor anybody else can tell you today that we’re not.

    But it’s a fair bet.

    No it’s not a fair bet. There is no scientific reason why you would say that before it even starts, before I see the results, that there’s going to necessarily be a significant problem with the count of Inuit or Métis or immigrants beyond the levels we’ve already seen in the 2006 census.

    So you’re saying there is no reason to believe right now that there might be a poorer reading of small sub-population groups?

    There’s no necessary reason why that would be the case. There’s a heightened level of risk and that’s the most you can actually say. Then the rest of it will depend on what happens and that’s why it’s so vitally important we get the support.

    You’re hoping that business groups, community groups [support this]. How do you ensure they do?

    We’ve hired a very large communications staff regionally. And they’re already out there, they’re actually out there meeting with associations, we’ve met with Indian reserves, we’ve met with municipalities, we’ve met with a wide variety of organizations. And so far, I can tell you that the reaction has been very favourable. The indications are that we’re going to get support.

    As well:

    [U]sers would have preferred to keep the long-form census. I’m sure you’re aware of the concerns raised by different groups, whether it’s researchers or it’s health researchers. In some of the briefs we got from Access to Information, HRSDC told StatsCan that the less reliable data would compromise their ability to determine EI eligibility. Indian and Northern Affairs says it would effectively hurt their ability to effectively manage and evaluate performance in areas of health and housing. The province of Ontario, saying we need this for our tax and budget decisions.

    Can you assure these people that they have no reason to worry?

    No, I told you a minute ago. Nobody knows what's ultimately going to happen. And I told you there's heightened risk because of the lower response rate. There’s not an a priori reason, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. So we won't know until we're out the other end. But neither does anybody else. All I’m saying is that nobody can draw firm conclusions that this data is going to be fundamentally flawed. There's no scientific basis for that. We will not know until we come out the other end. I understand that people perceive the higher risk, and they would rather that the risk wasn't there. And the perception is that if the long-form had remained mandatory, that risk would not be there, or would be smaller actually. And I understand that I don't know either and I can't give assurances because I won't know what I've got until we've actually gone thru this process. We've never done it this way before. All I’m saying, all I’m asking Canadians to do is to suspend judgment because there's no scientific basis for saying that the data is going to be fundamentally flawed.

    No scientific basis in that nobody’s a fortune teller, is that what you’re saying.

    I can sit down, and we can work out for you, for any given variable, for any given city, based on various response rates, what happens to the sampling error if the response rate falls. There's a necessary consequence. If the response rate is this, this is the effect. If the response rate is that, this is the effect. That's science. But people saying there is going to be massive under-coverage of certain populations, to such an extent that the data is ... there's nothing in statistical theory that supports that argument. You won't know until it's done.

    None of the consequences are absolutely certain. Note that Smith doesn't say that they're unlikely, that they're improbable.

    Smith does raise the interesting possibility of doing away with the traditional model of the census and trying new innovative models.

    If you think of the debate over the last few months, a number of options have been out there and discussed. Could Canada do a census based entirely on administrative records. Could Canada do a census like France where they do a part of the country every year and they don’t do the country in one year. Could we do something like the United States where they have a decennial census once every 10 years and run a very large survey every year in the interim that is capable of producing smaller area data. That's another model that's been talked about.

    [. . .]

    Data mining is a version of using administrative data. Basically you think of any administrative file that exists. What some countries are doing – for example, Denmark or Finland – if you live in those countries, you have to register your address. If you move you have to register. If you want to have a job you have to be registered. They actually have a basic register that says: here are the people living in the country and here is where they are living and this information is current and accurate.

    And once they have done that, then they have all these other files: these people are in the education system; these people have cars, these people are in the health system ... You could think of all the files the government holds: they link those file to the basic population register and achieve something that is a very rich data base. There are certain types of data it doesn't contain obviously but it contains a very rich set of data.

    The likelihood of a Canadian government that dropped the mandatory long-form census on account of its intrusiveness supporting data mining on such a scale, I leave to my readers to imagine.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2011

    On Zimbabwe's declining HIV infection rate

    The HIV/AIDS epidemic in southern Africa is something this blog has dealt with before, though mainly specifically relating to South Africa. Back in September 2006, Edward Hugh identified South Africa as having a very unusual mortality pattern--elevated mortality in younger cohorts--that wouldn't help its future. Zimbabwe hasn't featured, even though it was once the second industrial economy of southern Africa and a regional leader in apartheid, even though the impact of the epidemic on the country's population was horrible. With a prevalence of 27% concentrated in the working-age demographics, this deficit worsened by mass emigration to stabler and wealthier countries like South Africa or Botswana or even the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe's badly off.

    Things have gotten better, surprisingly enough. Kate Kellers' Reuters article observes that there has been a steep decline.

    British researchers said Zimbabwe’s epidemic was one of the biggest in the world until the rate of people infected with HIV almost halved, from 29 per cent of the population in 1997 to 16 per cent in 2007.

    Their findings show that Zimbabweans have primarily been motivated to change their sexual behaviour because of increased awareness about AIDS deaths which heightened their fears of catching the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes it.

    [. . .]

    The United Nations AIDS program said last year that young people in Africa were starting to lead a “revolution” in HIV prevention and driving down rates of the disease by having safer sex and fewer sexual partners.

    The Imperial College researchers found that in Zimbabwe, a change in attitudes towards numbers of sexual partners was helped by HIV/AIDS prevention programs, which were reinforced through mass media, church leaders and employers.

    The poor economic situation in Zimbabwe from the early 2000s would also have driven down the number of concurrent partners a man could have, due to constraints on his wallet, they said.

    The study in question goes into more detail, suggesting that exposure--through education and through personal experiences with the suffering and dying--was key.

    During the 1990s, a wide range of prevention and information programs were implemented utilizing the national media along with school-, workplace-, and church-based activities, peer education, and other inter-personal communication interventions. Community-based activities were intensified following establishment of the National AIDS Council in the late 1990s. This range of broader HIV education and prevention programming could have had impact. Focus group and interview participants mentioned a number of prevention programs and awareness/education efforts and many reported that the “B” part of “ABC” was promoted by churches in particular and was “heard” by many community members yet no specific intervention was cited consistently.

    One question arising from this review is why similarly high AIDS mortality and extensive coverage of HIV prevention programs (resulting in similarly high levels of reported condom use, early and large reductions in STI incidence, etc.) in several other countries in the region have not yet led to substantial declines in HIV prevalence (or multiple sexual partnerships). Our comparative analysis of eight southern African countries revealed few patterns of association. The HIV epidemic in Zimbabwe is somewhat older than in some other countries in the region, yet HIV prevalence has been declining markedly for over a decade now, which has not occurred to nearly the same extent, for example, in Malawi and Zambia (where HIV arrived even earlier). In addition to the severe economic decline, where Zimbabwe does stand out is in having high levels of both secondary education and marriage, especially in urban men, among whom the greatest level of behavior change evidently has occurred. It appears that this unique combination helped facilitate: 1) a clearer understanding and acceptance of how HIV is sexually transmitted (once such information became widely available through various AIDS education and prevention programs commencing in the early 1990s), as some studies of schooling levels and HIV determinants have suggested and 2) a greater ability to act upon “be faithful” messages, given the stronger marriage pattern in Zimbabwe than that in neighboring countries also having relatively well-educated populations, such as Botswana and South Africa.

    In addition, national survey data suggest that between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, Zimbabweans increasingly received information about AIDS from their friends, churches, and other inter-personal (as compared to official media) sources. A similar pattern has been linked to behavior change in Uganda. Furthermore, the Zimbabwean government's early adoption of a home-based care policy may inadvertently have accelerated the process of behavior change. It has been hypothesized that, when people die at home, this direct confrontation with AIDS mortality is more likely to result in a tangible fear of death among family and friends than when patients are primarily cared for in clinical facilities, such as in Botswana.

    Certainly HIV transmission in North American queer male communities halted altogether in the late 1980s when the mass dying of the infected began.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    On the Pew Forum's disproof of Eurabia

    My latest post at my other group blog, History and Futility, was entitled "Why Eurabia?" Why, in the face of the abundant evidence that the prospect of a Muslim majority in any European country--indeed, of particularly large Muslim minorities anywhere--do large numbers of people (like Glenn Beck) predict an imminent caliphate in Europe?

    Eurabia's fundamentally an ideology of revenge ("Ha, ha, you didn't support us, now you're going to get raped by Muslims!") as well as an ideology of envy. Muslims, imagined by Eurabianists as beings somehow completely resistant to the influences of modernization and post-modernization etc., are imagined as perfect conservatives, retaining the superfecundity of old and maintaining the traditional family. Why them? some ask. Why not us?

    Eurabia's all the more ironic since many sources–the Economist, Douglas Todd’s blog The Search, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times–have reported on a recent report by the Pew Research Group observing that Muslim population growth is slowing, and certainly Muslims won’t become majority populations in any European country.

    At the heart of its analysis is the ongoing effect of a “youth bulge” which peaked in 2000. In 1990 Islam’s share of the world’s youth was 20%; in 2010, 26%. In 2030 it will be 29% (of 15-to-29-year-olds). But the Muslim world is slowly heading towards paunchiness: the median age in Muslim-majority countries was 19 in 1990. It is 24 now, and will be 30 by 2030. (For French, Germans and Japanese the figure is 40 or over.) This suggests Muslim numbers will ultimately stop climbing, but later than the rest of the world population.

    The authors call their calculations demographic, not political. Drawing on earlier Pew research, they say conversion is not a big factor in the global contest between Islam, Christianity and other faiths; the converts balance out. Nor do they assess piety; via the imperfect data of the United Nations, the European Union and national statistics, they aim simply to measure how many people call themselves Muslim, at least culturally, if asked.

    New numbers, they say, will change the world map. As Indonesia prospers, its birth rate is falling; South Asia’s remains very high. By 2030, 80m extra mouths in Pakistan will boost its Muslim numbers to 256m, ousting Indonesia (with 239m) as the most populous Islamic land. India’s Muslim minority will be nearly as large at 236m—though growth is slowing there too. And in 2030 India’s Muslims will still constitute only a modest 15.9% of that country’s swelling total, against 14.6% now.

    The report asserts no causal link between Islamic teaching and high fertility rates, although it notes that poverty and poor education are a problem in many Muslim lands. In Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Turkey, it observes, the lay and religious authorities encourage birth control. Better medical care and lower mortality boost poor-country population numbers too.

    [. . .]

    The total Muslim share of Europe’s population is predicted to grow from 6% now to 8% in 2030: hardly the stuff of nightmares. But amid that are some sharp rises. The report assumes Britain has 2.9m Muslims now (far higher than the usual estimates, which suggest 2.4m at most), rising to 5.6m by 2030. As poor migrants start families in Spain and Italy, numbers there will rocket; in France and Germany, where some Muslims are middle-class, rises will be more modest—though from a higher base. Russia’s Muslims will increase to 14.4% or 18.6m, up from 11.7% now (partly because non-Muslims are declining). The report takes a cautious baseline of 2.6m American Muslims in 2010, but predicts the number will surge by 2030 to 6.2m, or 1.7% of the population—about the same size as Jews or Episcopalians. In Canada the Muslim share will surge from 2.8% to 6.6%.

    The report in question--"The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030"--makes for very interesting reading. Suffice it to say that although Muslim populations are growing more quickly, it is a consequence of relatively higher fertility--declining notably, however, for the same reasons as in Iran or Turkey or Tunisia or any other country where urbanization, the liberation of women, and economic pressures has pushed fertility down--and a relatively large proportion of young people of childbearing age. In the case of Europe, the projections suggest that a tenth of the populations of France, Belgium, and Sweden will be Muslim by 2030, that the proportion in western Europe as a whole will rise from 4.5% now to 7.1%, noting additionally that right now Muslim fertility is below replacement levels in Germany, Italy, and Spain, the gaps between Muslim and non-Muslim populations continuing to close. Russia, notably, is and will be home to one-third of Europe's Muslims, but even there proportions won't change overmuch (~11% to ~15%). And in case you're worried about India, the projections suggest a rise in the Muslim proportion of the Indian population from 14.6% to 15.9%.

    The study's methodology looks fine to me: conservative, well-grounded in facts, not making the sorts of sweeping predictions of radical transformation that always merit the most stringent skepticism. Notably, projections are made only two decades into the future, roughly one generation, beyond which point much happens. Are radical changes possible? Sure. Are they likely? No. One may as well predict a huge surge in non-Muslim fertility as not, or mass Christian immigration into Muslim lands. (The latter is possible, by the way; the huge disparities in income between North Africa and the Middle East to the north, and sub-Saharan Africa to the south, could drive interesting population movements.)

    Alas, this fine report won't be considered by the prophets of Eurabia. Eurabia is a fantasy, product of an ideology that imagines the punishment of errant nations by a terrifyingly perfect, inhuman conservatism. Envy and revenge fantasies can't be defeated so easily as all that. Pity, not least since these fantasies can lead to any number of horrifying outcomes.

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    On illegal immigration in Israel

    The ongoing revolution in Egypt is a concern to Israel, since regardless of the peace treaty theirs is a "cold peace". War's unlikely, but a regime that expressed popular dislike for Israeli policies and for Jews wouldn't be a very good Israeli partner. The Globe and Mail has pointed out a perhaps-unexpected consequence of a deteriorating Egypt-Israeli relationship: there could be more illegal immigrants.

    Israel is by far the most affluent nation to share a land border wi Africa and is a magnet for refugees – more than a thousand refugees make it across the Israeli-Egyptian border every month. In the past, Egypt’s army has attempted to stop them, but a hostile regime in Cairo, or an ineffective one, could turn this steady trickle into a flood that inundates Israel’s welfare systems.

    As one would expect given the importance of displacement and migration in the history of Israel and the diasporas of Jews and Palestinians, immigration is a sensitive topic, illegal immigration more so. Notwithstanding the close links between Palestinians within and without Israel and geography, after the flight of Jews from the Middle East the region is of little, and decreasing, importance. When the post-Gulf War peace process began, Palestinians played a major role in the Israeli economy, provided unskilled labour at significant benefit to the Israeli economy and to Palestinian living standards. Ironically, when the peace process began, even before the post-2000 wave of suicide bombings Palestinians were displaced by less expensive foreign guest workers.

    There were three hundred thousand foreigh workers in 2003, of fairly homogeneous background, half from Asia (China, Thailand, Philippines) and 45% from eastern Europe (mainly Romania and Moldova). The largest share work in construction, domestic service, and agriculture, but they can be found throughout the Israeli economy. (This collection of articles) goes into greater detail.) Many overstayed visas, and this, along with the standard concerns of immigrants debasing the national character and harming the economy, etc., has caused a recent crackdown on foreign guest workers.

    A new Interior Ministry regulation would bar certain foreign nationals, who had illegally lived in Israel and then left of their own volition, from entering Israel again. This severely tightens immigration policy in Israel, as it bars the entry of foreign nationals from 60 countries exempt from visa requirements, including Russia, Romania, Colombia and the Philippines, for at least a year and up to a lifetime. It will affect tens of thousands of people, including the families of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and of former foreign workers, who were granted Israeli citizenship according to an arrangement for foreign workers' children.

    According to the regulation, foreign workers from visa-exempt countries who remained in the country illegally for more than 30 days and then left on their own volition would be subject to a two-year "cooling-off" period. The price to be paid by foreigners who arrived as tourists but remained in the country illegally for a period of up to 30 days is slightly lower - a no-entry period of just one year. However, a foreign worker who is caught and deported from Israel will be barred from entering the country for a period of 10 years. A tourist or foreign worker residing in the country for over a year without a permit will be barred from returning for the rest of his or her lifetime, unless he or she receives a special permit from the immigration authorities in advance. According to the regulation, foreign workers who remained in Israel legally and departed as required will not be allowed to return for a year following their departure.

    The notable thing about the illegal migration noted in the Globe and Maoil is that it actually does come from Israel's region. African refugees have a growing presence.

    Most Africans [. . .] climb in through the window of the long, sprawling and largely open border with Egypt and then knock on the door for asylum. About 15,000 African hopefuls have entered the country this year, roughly double the amount of last year.

    The government is determined to stop the influx. For starters, it is fencing off its 150-mile border with Egypt. Work began last month.

    The border fence will cost about $370 million, but government indecision on immigration matters is costing dearly. Fear of the impact on politics, religion, demography, diplomacy and the economy has paralyzed decision-makers, negating a cohesive immigration policy. Years of Band-Aid solutions have produced a situation that is rapidly approaching a crisis.

    All non-Jewish foreigners challenge Israel's aspirations for a Jewish majority and character while treating others fairly. But the African issue offers a test of humanitarianism and international law -- and social tolerance too.

    Largely lumped together as "infiltrators," many of the Africans come from war-torn regions. Most come from Eritrea; Sudan is a close second, with a number from Ivory Coast and other countries. All asylum seekers undergo a process of "refugee status determination, " or RSD, except for Sudanese and Eritreans, who enjoy a temporary sweeping protection.

    The Eritreans are predominantly men of military age, fleeing their country's military draft, while the Sudanese tend to be refugees from Darfur and southern Sudan. Both these populations certainly have any number of incentives to flee their homelands and to try to find new lives in Israel, while the older migration route to Libya is now profoundly unsafe. The size of future influxes of Sudanese and Eritreans into Israel--and, perhaps, of other migrants from the Middle East--depends on the enforcement of border controls by Israel and its neighbours.

    Will Israel's neighbours keep illegal migrants out from Israel? Who knows. Leaving their general dislike for Israel aside, they do have incentives not to have large refugee populations accumulate in their own countries. Blind eyes are quite imaginable.

    On South Africa's wasted human capital

    A post on Egypt's population is coming up, I assure you all. The importance of the subject merits doing it right. For now Suffice it to say that Egypt's key to the future of the regions of Nasser's Three Circles, the Arab world, Africa, and wider Islamic civilization.

    In the meantime, let's take a look at South Africa, the other middle-income African country of global import. South Africa's invitation and eventual admission to the BRIC organization was perplexing.

    [T]he man who coined the BRIC acronym, economist Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs, even interrupted his holiday to write a head-scratching note to investors about this development.

    “While this is clearly good news for South Africa, it is not entirely obvious to me as to why the BRIC countries should have agreed,” O’Neill wrote. To give a sense of scale: South Africa’s economy is only a quarter of the size of Russia’s, the next-smallest of the group.

    South Africa has a relatively small population of about 50 million, an economy worth $286 billion and growth of only about 3 percent last year — far from scorching. There are many other emerging markets that would better fit the BRIC grouping, O’Neill wrote, including South Korea, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia, all of which have GDPs that are two or three times bigger than that of South Africa, and much larger populations.

    “How can South Africa be regarded as a big economy? And, by the way, they happen to be struggling as well,” O’Neill told a recent investment summit.

    I'd have invited Indonesia, myself. (It's difficult for me to understand how South Korea could possibly be an emerging market when it's richer per capita than Spain or Italy.) South Africa's admission to the BRIC group seems to be a matter of geographic parity, of having the group of the world's expected future world powers have representation from the African continent and South Africa's relative wealth and stability making it a much more attractive than the only other possibility of Nigeria. Whether or not the rest of Africa wants to be represented by South Africa is another question, notwithstanding the South African suggestion that their country is a suitable proxy for the continent. South Africa may be a more suitable proxy for the Southern African Development Community--ironically, founded during the apartment era to provide alternatives to trade with South Africa---but despite South Africa's economic weight its population is only a sixth of the 233 million-odd SADC residents, and the SADC itself is not very integrated.

    Still, South Africa is going to have to bet its future on its ties to the rest of the continent: the country's population is expected to start shrinking after 2030, according to a local think tank.

    By 2030 South Africa’s population will be 53.81 million. The population will then decrease to 53.74 million by 2035, and to 53.28 million by 2040, according to data from the Institute of Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch cited in the Survey.

    One of the main reasons for this is the long term impact of HIV/AIDS.

    In South Africa, the number of deaths in a year is making up an increasingly higher proportion of the number of births. In 1985, deaths were 25% of births. This was expected by the Actuarial Society of South Africa to increase to 87% of births by 2021.

    Thuthukani Ndebele, a researcher at the Institute, said, ‘If this trend continues, there will soon be more deaths than births in South Africa. It is evident that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has resulted in an increasing number of deaths. These deaths are mostly among people in the child-bearing age group, which will result in decreasing numbers of births.’

    However, a lower fertility rate will also contribute to population shrinkage. Between 2001 and 2010, South Africa’s fertility rate decreased from 2.86 to 2.38 births per woman.

    By 2040, the fertility rate will have dropped to 1.98 births per woman. This is lower than the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, which is needed for the population to reproduce itself.

    Ndebele said, ‘Lower fertility rates are related to an increase in access to education and contraceptives, which results in women having fewer children.

    ‘A combination of increasing deaths as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as lower fertility rates will result in population shrinkage after 2030. This can be positive as there will be less strain on resources in South Africa. However, it will also be negative, as there will be fewer people to contribute to the economy and its internal consumer markets.’

    As people in the comments there noted, these projections don't seem to take into account the possibility of new treatments for HIV/AIDS, or the near-certainty of continued immigration from South Africa's hinterland: high levels of income inequality in relatively wealthy Botswana and Namibia, never mind very low incomes elsewhere in southern Africa, practically ensure a continued economic incentive for migrants. Assuming that the South African population will start to age significantly over the next three decades is a safe bet, even if it mightn't be wise to bet in favour of a contracting population.

    This projection has implications for the country's economic growth. With an aging population shifting towards rapid aging and below-replacement fertility, South Africa's continued economic growth in aggregate would require increased consumption per capita and productivity. The former is possible; the latter, with the historical record, may not be a good bet. The country's dependence on high-skills but capital-intensive industrial and service sectors and low-skills and low-productivity primary sectors, not to mention the profound disconnect between the formal and informal segments of the economy, does not bode well.

    South Africa's economic growth record certainly hasn't been impressive, a recent news report placing the country's growth in GDP per capita at 0.6% per annum from 1970 to 2008. (This compares to 5.9% in Botswana, 7.9% in China, 3.6% in India, 4.3% in Indonesia, 3.5% in Ireland, and 1.9% in both the United Kingdom and the United States). South Africa has slid rapidly down world tables: A quick glance at the Penn World Tables and Wikipedia, comparing GDP per capita and HDIs in South Africa relative to the four founding BRIC members in Indonesia, suggests that Brazil and China have nearly caught up, with Russia staying in the lead and the remaining two countries making progress. South Africa's lead over the rest of the non-North Atlantic world has vanished.

    Why? South Africa's population history--more precisely, the reaction of South African whites to their country's population history--is to blame. Apartheid did terrible things, especially (from the demographic perspective) the systematic destruction of cultural capital and sustained efforts at disdevelopment among the non-white majority. Left-wing miners early in the 20th century opposing black employment; the country had a public education systems that provided much more funding for white students than for black students (who, it should be noted, were discouraged from being professionals); the scandalously poor public health system that let tuberculosis run rampant with (according to Laurie Garrett in The Coming Plague) official claims that South African non-whites suffered so badly from tuberculosis not because of horrible living standards because they were genetically predisposed to catch the illness. The South African apartheid state even stripped most non-blacks of South African citizenship, creating a nightmare world of overpopulated rural slums, ill-serviced urban slums, and a tradition of oscillatory labour that helped HIV/AIDS spread so rapidly. In its 1994 Human Development Report, the UN observed that while South African whites enjoyed the human development indices of Spain, despite their country's wealth South African blacks suffered the levels of human development found in Congo-Brazzaville.

    The sheer wastage of human capital over generations, all pursued in the name of a protectionist labour policy, is a tragedy. Botswana, at the time of apartheid's inception much less developed than its larger neighbour, went on to surpass South Africa in terms of GDP per capita and human development, even with its more severe HIV/AIDS epidemic. If--if, granted--South Africa's government hadn't decide to protect the living standards of a minority at the expense of everyone else, and had abandoned anti-non-white labour protectionism and disdevelopment for more rational policies, given South Africa's relatively higher level of development immediately after the Second World War than the BRICs it's easy to imagine a South Africa where many more people would have been able to exercise their talents for the betterment of all. The improvements in life chances in South Africa and its neighbourhood are scarcely imaginable. Such a South Africa--richer, less unequal, more developed broadly-- would have a significantly stronger claim to BRIC membership. As things stand now, South Africa is caught up in a desperate race to improve its human capital stock, to give more people chances, before its already-attenuated demographic sweet spot disappears.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2011

    "Vamonos - Voting with their feet in Spain?"

    Co-blogger Claus Vistesen has, at his blog Alpha Sources, a post up taking a look at migration in post-crash Spain. It's a well-known fact that Spain, a massive net exporter of population in the 20th century, became in the first decade of the 21st century a famously important destination for immigrants. Claus' conclusion? Despite a disastrous economy, Spain needs to keep its immigrant population.

    With the unemployment rate almost surely on the wrong side of 20% you could be excused for arguing what exactly the problem is here [with immigrants leaving.] Surely with this kind of excess capacity in the labour market the last thing Spain needs is for the migrants to stay competing for already incredibly scarce jobs. Indeed, the Spanish government has tried to create incentives for unemployed migrants to leave in order to free up the mismatch between supply and demand for labour.

    This approach however does not hold up to basic economic intuition even if it is an understandable move from a political point of view. First of all, there is likely to be a low value added skill bias in the kind of jobs migrants are taking. This is then an often misunderstood point in the context of western societies' attempt to cherry pick the brightest graduates and lure highly skilled foreign labour to the country with lucrative tax breaks. As such, low value added labour (relative to the average level of value added in the receiving country) can provide a crucial labour input to the labour market in the form of filling up vacancies that domestic labor seekers would otherwise shy away from.

    Now, you might again protest that in a severe crisis and as desperation among job seekers kick in, the matching for vacancies become subject to a general process of trading down as people accept jobs they are not qualified for simply in order to make ends meet. This is undoubtedly true but this is also the difference between a win-win and lose-lose situation then.

    Migrants are ultimately attracted by work opportunities and the sharp decline in migration rates in Spain can be seen as migrants voting with their feet. In this sense, net outward migration of relatively low value added labour only to let domestic workers compete for these same jobs is not a sign of virtue let alone a recovery. I would hold this to be one of the most important structural issues to look out even if the long run effect of an economic crisis on migration is difficult to predict. In addition, and this is evident in Eastern Europe, there may be a strong (and worrying) me too effect from foreign immigrants leaving as it migh even incite Spanish young people to contemplate leaving as well especially as the labour market continues to look dire.

    And indeed, the German and Spanish governments recently announced a plan to ease Spanish unemployment by recruiting Spanish professionals to work in Germany, so as to ease labour shortages. Is Spain on its way to becoming a country exporting gastarbeiter?

    ARCHITECTS, engineers and other specialist technically-qualified young people from Spain have been clogging up websites offering jobs in Germany with applications ever since chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country was seeking unemployed Spaniards.

    With Spain's unemployment rate at 20.33 per cent--rising to 40 per cent among the under-35s--Merkel is now actively seeking highly-qualified jobseekers from Spain to mop up the deficit in professionals in Germany's employment market.

    She intended to make this public at the Spanish-German summit meeting in Madrid on February 3, but already, thousands of jobseekers from Spain are making plans to migrate north.

    Preferred industries are engineering, healthcare, education, tourism, and hotel and catering, and applicants must have at least an intermediate level of written and spoken German.

    If immigrants to Spain leave in large numbers, and if Spanish citizens with professional skills start leaving in large numbers, given the rapid aging of the Spanish population it's difficult to imagine good things coming about from this. To put it mildly.

    Go, read Claus' post.