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Religion and Politics. The Demographic Imperative. Source: ‘The Moment of Truth’, Ha’aretz , 8 February 2007. Religious Fertility vs. Religious Decline.

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Religion and Politics

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religion and politics

Religion and Politics

The Demographic Imperative

religious fertility vs religious decline
Religious Fertility vs. Religious Decline

"One of the most central injunctions of virtually all traditional religions is to strengthen the family, to encourage people to have children, to encourage women to stay home and raise children, and to forbid abortion, divorce, or anything that interferes with high rates of reproduction. As a result of these two interlocking trends, rich nations are becoming more secular, but the world as a whole is becoming more religious." (Norris and Inglehart 2004: 22-23, emphasis added)

Hypothesis: a combination of higher religious fertility and immigration will lead to a growth in the religious population (defined in terms of belief) that exceeds the net loss of communicants through religious apostasy.
  • Source: EVS / WVS & ESS + ethnic minority surveys
  • Cohort Component Projection Parameters: Fertility & Switching (i.e. religious decline or revival) by age and sex, plus current Age/Sex Structure of Religious and Secular 'Populations'
  • Mortality Rates assumed as standard
what about the muslim world
What About the Muslim World?
  • The religious cleavage between Islamists and Secular Nationalists/Socialists/Liberals is Paramount
  • Q: Will higher fertility endow Islamists (or even the wider 'religious' population) with political leverage into the future?
  • Berman & Stepanyan (2003) find a significant but modest link between Madrassa attendance and fertility in four countries
  • This study uses WVS 1999-2000 dataset on 7-15 countries (depends on question)
  • Aim is to determine parameters for population projections

Religiosity and Fertility in Muslim Countries, 2000















Albania 2000

Albania '95-97


Source: 2000 WVS and World Bank.


Source: WVS 1999-2000. N = 2796 respondents in towns under 10,000 and 1561 respondents in cities over 100,000. Asked in Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt.


Figure 17

Source WVS 1999-2000. N=15197 cases. Question asked in Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Iran, Morocco, Turkey, Uganda and Tanzania.


Source: WVS 1999-2000. N = 7436 respondents. Asked in Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt.


Source: WVS 1999-2000. N = 7412 respondents. Asked in Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt.


Married/Children: weak -

Age: indeterminate

Education: +

Town Size: -

National Pride: -

GDP per Capita: -

Country Ed.: +

Country Fertility: -

conclusions fertility
Conclusions: Fertility
  • In Muslim developing countries, unlike other developing countries, higher national religiosity is associated with lower fertility and National GDP per head has no impact on fertility
  • Islamists in Muslim countries are more fertile; some evidence for sharpened fertility effect in more 'modern' contexts, i.e. cities, the educated
  • But effect modest: Muslim Religious Fertility Dynamics more like USA and Europe than Israel
  • The growth of the religious population through fertility is a long-term process, unlike Israel
conclusions religiosity
Conclusions: Religiosity
  • Younger, Educated are less religious and/or Islamist, but effect is complex and there are exceptions (18-24, university students)
  • Urbanites more Islamist than rural population
  • Higher education levels may modestly lower Islamism, but urbanization may raise it. Generational change will have little effect
  • GDP per head unlikely to affect religiosity
  • Nationalism and Islamism seem compatible
  • All told, we should expect a distinct Muslim trajectory of modernization and development rather than secularism
Future Research: projections of religious and Islamist populations for Muslim world, Europe, North America
  • Own project:
  • IIASA projections project: