Crescent over the North Sea

Pew has a nice new report up, Europe’s Growing Muslim Population. Though it is important to read the whole thing, including the methods.

I laugh when people take projections of the year 2100 seriously. That’s because we don’t have a good sense of what might occur over 70+ years (read social and demographic projections from the 1940s and you’ll understand what I mean). Thirty years though is different. In the year 2050 children born today, such as my youngest son, will be entering the peak of their powers.

First, one has to note that these statistics include a lot of people who are what some would term “Muslimish”. That is, they are not religious believers, but have some identification with Muslim culture. That’s explicitly noted in the methods.

The problem with this is that there is a wide range of religious commitment and identification across Europe’s Muslim communities. On the whole, they are more religiously observant than non-Muslims in their nations of residence,  but, for example, British Muslims are consistently more religious than French Muslims on surveys (or express views constant with greater religious conservatism).

Here are the results of a 2006 survey:

  France Britain Germany
Yes, Westerners are respectful of women 77 49 73
Yes, there is a conflict between being devout Muslim and living in modern society 28 47 36
Yes, sometimes violence against civilian targets in order to defend Islam can be justified 16 15 7
Did Arabs carry out 9/11? (yes) 48 17 35
People in Western countries are selfish (yes) 51 67 57
People in Western countries are arrogant (yes) 45 64 48
People in Western countries are violent (yes) 29 52 34
Do you consider yourself Muslim first? (yes) 46 81 66
In my country Muslims are perceived to adopt customs of nation 78 41 30
     

Numbers such as those above indicate even if France and the United Kingdom both have Muslim minorities on the order of 17% of the population, the nature of those populations differs to such an extent that that similarity in value may mislead.

In God’s Continent Philip Jenkins observes that public statistics of Christians often work to exclude cultural Christians, but those of Muslims include cultural Muslims. What many estimates of “Muslims” in the European context do is give a sense of the proportion of the population which is of Muslim background. This is especially true in a nation like France where religious survey data is not collected by government agencies.

Overall I think this data is important to consider, but there’s nothing really new in a qualitative sense. And, it is important to keep in mind the details. It is highly probable that the idea of a European superstate will have faltered by 2050, and each nation will its own Muslim minority, and engage with them differently depending on local values and context. Though Muslims, broadly construed, will form about the same proportion of the French and British general population, I suspect that in Britain the distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim will be much more obvious and strict than in France.

29 thoughts on “Crescent over the North Sea

  1. All the other questions are opinion-based, but I’m staggered at the answers to the one factual question — “Arabs carried out 9/11”.

  2. The problem with this is that there is a wide range of religious commitment and identification across Europe’s Muslim communities. On the whole, they are more religiously observant than non-Muslims in their nations of residence, but, for example, British Muslims are consistently more religious than French Muslims on surveys (or express views constant with greater religious conservatism).”

    If seventy-year demographic projections are worthless, then ten-year-old opinion polls certainly don’t add any value to understanding thirty-year demographic projections. Opinions in populations can change, often quite dramatically. And especially among the young.

    If the Muslims in France aren’t quite like the Muslims in Britain, they’re even more unlike the non-Muslim French.

  3. then ten-year-old opinion polls certainly don’t add any value to understanding thirty-year demographic projections.

    that’s pretty much bullshit. you haven’t left comments on this sort of topic to think your opinion warrants my consideration. please don’t post bullshit in the future.

    If the Muslims in France aren’t quite like the Muslims in Britain, they’re even more unlike the non-Muslim French.

    i think this is true. but are you just asserting this or do you know for a fact? have you compared the opinion polls?

    please try to add value in the comments. if i know more than you on a topic than i really don’t care much about your opinion.

  4. The Pew Study is excellent. The one major point, however, which it doesn’t really underline and you strongly suggest without quite saying, is that the nations of origin of Muslims in different countries (particularly the baseline numbers pre-2014) differ dramatically, to a great extent based upon past colonial and historical experience.

    * Muslims in the U.K. are mostly from former British colonies, predominantly in South Asia.
    * Muslims in France are mostly from former French colonies, especially North Africa.
    * Muslims in Germany are very disproportionately from Turkey.

    Another part of the Pew Report that quite graphically illustrates how distinct the populations are is examination of total fertility rates by country, with countries like Germany and Ireland having Muslim populations with total fertility rates lower than non-Muslims in some European countries, while others have fertility rates as high as 2.6 children per woman per lifetime.

    None of the European countries have non-Muslim replacement rate fertility (2.1) and some have non-Muslim TFR as low as 1.4 which implies population shrinkage of about 1/3rd per generation. But, Ireland is a notable outlier here with the highest non-Muslim TFR in Europe (2.0) and it is the only European countries whose non-Muslim TFR (2.0) is higher than the Muslim TFR (1.8).

    Another notable point about the report is that excludes Albania and most of the former Yugoslavian countries, thus excluding almost all of the native European Muslim populations of Europe in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. While these populations too are culturally distinct from migrant Muslim populations in Europe, they do offer some insight into what Europe might look like in a generation when there are significant numbers of native born Muslim adults in Europe who have only weak ties to their ancestors’ countries of origin.

  5. I could see out-migration of muslims from Great Britain if the economy goes south and politics becomes more hostile after Brexit. Not to mention it would be a much less attractive destination for the migrants still coming.

    It is highly probable that the idea of a European superstate will have faltered by 2050, and each nation will its own Muslim minority, and engage with them differently depending on local values and context.

    They probably will still coordinate in dealing with refugees and immigrants, though, especially if there are a lot of them (which by 2050 I suspect there will be, for climatic reasons).

  6. that’s pretty much bullshit. you haven’t left comments on this sort of topic to think your opinion warrants my consideration. please don’t post bullshit in the future.

    Nothing I posted was bullshit. You overreached and now you’re sensitive about it.

    You don’t think you overreached? Please explain how a 2006 opinion poll tells you what French and British Muslims will think in 2050?

    And then tell us how your explanation is NOT bullshit.

    I don’t care what you think of me. If you believe you have some special insight into 2050 based on opinion polls in 2006, then you’re the only one here who is fooling himself.

    I have little idea what 2050 will bring. But I suspect the two most important questions to answering whether Muslims in a particular country are a problem will be 1) do Muslim minorities remain distinct from the rest of the population economically and socially, and 2) are they disadvantaged?

    Opinion polls in 2006 will play no part in it.

    As to what I know about French Muslims, it’s very little. I’m sure you know a great deal more about the topic than I do. And that, apparently, has led to your overconfidence in believing you have some special insight into what they will be like in 2050. I’m sure you have already heard of this book, but you might want to look at it again: Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It?

    I don’t know much about the subject, but I do know that France has been much more aggressive than Britain in pushing assimilation. And that comes down to policy and cultural confidence – two things which can change very quickly.

  7. “I could see out-migration of muslims from Great Britain”

    The one country in Europe that is a real migration outlier is Ireland which in addition to having the highest TFR has also seen stunning rates of out migration in recent years.

    According to a BBC report I heard on the radio on May 8, 2013, 7% of the population of Ireland has emigrated from Ireland in the wake of the Irish financial crisis. The trend has continued, although not quite as vigorously, since then. This is comparable, for example, to the demographic impact of Hurricane Katrina on the population of Louisiana. This was facilitated largely by the laws in the European Union permitting unrestricted immigration within its boundaries.

    “They probably will still coordinate in dealing with refugees and immigrants, though, especially if there are a lot of them (which by 2050 I suspect there will be, for climatic reasons).”

    I think that there is every reason to think that the refugee issue will have mostly abated by 2025 or so. The Syrian Civil War is winding down and may end in a year or two, although backlogs of refugees from that war will take time to run their course. I’m cautiously optimistic that drives of refugee flow from Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan in coming years will also weaken as those states consolidate post-civil war regimes (and the near total defeat of ISIS in Iraq), something that is already in progress. Those are some of the main drivers of refugee flow into Europe right now.

  8. I don’t know much about the subject, but I do know that France has been much more aggressive than Britain in pushing assimilation. And that comes down to policy and cultural confidence – two things which can change very quickly.

    this is correct. i don’t think this invalidates the fact that there is sensitivity to initial conditions.

  9. I could see out-migration of muslims from Great Britain if the economy goes south and politics becomes more hostile after Brexit. Not to mention it would be a much less attractive destination for the migrants still coming.

    most of the pakistani muslim population is native born. where would they go to? pakistan sucks. so good luck….

  10. “While these populations too are culturally distinct from migrant Muslim populations in Europe, they do offer some insight into what Europe might look like in a generation when there are significant numbers of native born Muslim adults in Europe who have only weak ties to their ancestors’ countries of origin.”

    Totally ignores that many Muslims do cultivate strong ties to their countries of origin, not least through marriage migration/aranged marriages. A country like Turkey also actively tries to use diaspora Turks for political leverage and warns them against assimilation, also tries to influence Islamic religious education in Europe through its ministry of religious affairs.

  11. Brexit, if anything, is pro-british-muslim. Most Bulgarians and Romanians are direct competition to previous non-european migrants. Even so most voted against Brexit, probably because they perceived it as a sign of anti-immigrant sentiment.

  12. Hahaha. Germany manages to keep it at 10%. Well played

    Still bad though. Would be at a proportion roughly approximate to the African American population in the states

    Even over a decade ago however, the difference across the Rhine of the presence of third world peddlers selling junk was stark and dramatic

  13. @ohwilleke that’s par for the course of the Irish experience, once the economy tanks we tend to have net outward migration, so for example the 1950’s and the 1980’s were peak emigration decades (1950’s was nadir for Irish population). Going on official figures Ireland has returned to net-immigration since year of Feb 2015 -> Feb 2016.
    Of course given how birth rates even with net emigration in period 2009-2015 the population increased, though at slowest rate in 20 years (only 3.5% growth between census 2011 and 2016). So much so that the recent census (2016) has population at highest since sometime in the mid 1850’s (it’s midway between 1851 and 1861 census), major issue of course coming up is Brexit and knock on issues to Irish economy.

    With regards to Muslim fertility rate been lower than non-Muslim rate in Ireland, perhaps part of that could be to do with fact that historically generally the Muslim population here in Ireland are higher educated (Medical, other profession) in general compare to the broader mass of Irish population. Of course that’s a simplification and there has been increased diversity when it came to background of Muslim population over the last 15-20 years.

    Of course the biggest news out of the last census when it came to ‘Faith’, is that the second biggest group now in Ireland after Catholics are those of ‘no religion’ who saw an increase of 73% since 2011 census and make up about 10% of population.

  14. “Hahaha. Germany manages to keep it at 10%. Well played”

    That 10% won’t be equally distributed though, it will be much higher in certain areas. This will emphasize divisions between West and East Germany (the latter being much more German, while urban centres in the west are already pretty much lost) and might eventually lead to a break-up of Germany into two or more parts.
    But yes, the change over the last few years has been catastrophic. 2010 looks like paradise in hindsight.

  15. “This was facilitated largely by the laws in the European Union permitting unrestricted immigration within its boundaries.”

    I don’t get the causal relationship you’re implying ? Regardless, the choice to let unrestricted immigration from the east was a *domestic policy choice*. Most countries opted out initially, ireland didn’t (in part because ireland has a quite selective non European immigration policy, and eastern Europeans were encouraged to come to fill lower skilled occupations during the boom. Bear in mind also a significant number of those left ireland after the crash, so the emigration rates you see is in part 00s immigrants leaving)

  16. I can’t realy speak for other countries but immigration to france has changed greatly since the middle of the 20th century and will likely change again in the near future.
    To make a long story short france need immgrants for jobs that french people don’t want to do, and, at first, these migrants came from western and southern europe, then they came from north africa, and now increasingly from sub-saharan africa.

    But Macron has announced this year that france will respect the european treaty allowing eastern europeans to work in france after a good decade of feet dragging. So immigration from oustide of europe will likely be reduced, especially for low skill labour.

    There are many different aspects of immigrations though, like back migrations, emigrations, family reunification or intermarriage.

    At this point back migrations is a small but increasing phenomenom in france; it’s usualy people with dual nationalities and a good education who find it easier to get jobs over there than over here.

    Emigration is a new and increasing phenomenon in france that concerns all the young people regardless of their origins.

    From what i understand it’s quite common in the uk for the children of asian immigrants to marry a “cousin” from le bled* and bring them to the uk, whilst in france it’s quite rare; in fact it’s quite rare for the children of immigrants to marry someone with the same origins even if they are both living in france; many actively avoid it.

    Having said this i think the picture depicted by the study is misleading because the muslim popultaion is much younger than the rest, at least in france. Using proxies like sickle-cell disease** monitoring in newborns, it can be estimated that around 25% of the children born in france have at least 1 parent of muslim origins.

    *”le bled” is the name used in france for the immigrants’ place of origin, it can be used for a country or a region in a country and it also works for their children. it used to be consired slang but now it’s commonly used; not academic though.

    ** known as drépanocytose in france.

  17. To follow-up a comment of ohwilleke’s above, do we have any hints on the success/failure of France’s aggressive integration push, i.e., any means to account for the difference created by migrant origins?

  18. need immgrants for jobs that french people don’t want to do

    More like there are wage levels beyond which companies and employers are unwilling to pay.

    Native French won’t pick grapes at 10 euros an hour? Try raising the rate until you find takers, instead of bringing in North Africans.

    I used to be a big free marketeer (I still am domestically), but I am pretty tired of business leaders using this argument to immiserate the lower classes of their own countries to make a bigger buck… all the while socializing the costs of the immigrants.

  19. “pretty tired of business leaders using this argument to immiserate the lower classes of their own countries to make a bigger buck”

    Oh yes. This extends to off-shoring tech support. Now, when I need tech support to fix some system problem, instead of a guy who sits in the same office building as me turning up at my desk in 10 minutes flat and fixing the problem in 5 minutes, I get someone in India responding by email after 4 days and totally missing the point. What the company has saved in the short term on employing local tech support staff, it is losing hugely on in terms of lost productivity. Everyone knows this and is trying to tell the company senior management they have made a major strategic error, but we all just get hand-waving responses about ‘teething problems that will be quickly resolved.’ No, they won’t be.

    When I was living in Australia and had major complaints about my mobile phone bill, the ‘hotline’ to get the problems addressed went straight to some lady in the Philippines who had zero authority to address the problems. There was no other avenue/way to address the company about the problems. Telling her that the service provider had defrauded me and that, in the absence of any way to get the issue attended to by someone who could do something about it and give me my money back, I intended to discontinue giving them my business, the response was just a noncommittal shrug, plus advice from her that scrapping my contract would cost me another fee. Why should she care? There was nothing she could do about it even if she did. Since then, this company’s share price has dropped like a rock, and they are still head-scratching trying to work out why.

  20. This is why I try to buy locally as much as possible. But, it gets expensive, and not everyone can do it. On the other hand, I’m almost never aggravated. Fo example, I recently called my furniture-maker about a minor issue. He sent me a guy in an hour and he took care of the problem pronto (and what’s better, he showed me some nifty wood-working tricks). The funny thing is, in this particular case, the local prices are about the same as costly imports, which come with virtually no support.

    Similarly, all my AR rifles have Geissele triggers. They are made and quality-controlled in the US. When I have problems, which is extremely rare, I call the company and get the owner (!) on the phone, who has taken care of everything – either walked me through some install issues or sent me a prepaid label to send the defective product back.

  21. It’s all down to customer service – I bought one of my Flamenco guitars online from a small business in England, and subsequently was contacted personally by email by the owner, who gave me excellent, honest, friendly service/customer support, and I would always go back to that guy again. I have subsequently ordered strings online from an American business – same deal, excellent personalized service. Music shops here just don’t stock Flamenco guitars and strings, for self-evident reasons – not many Chinese gypsies.

    But where a good or service can be purchased locally, then yes, I’ve learned from experience to buy local every time, even if it costs more initially – it more than pays off in the long run.

  22. It’s interesting to note how complicated these demographic issues can be. I’ve a friend who is originally from the south of France who tells me that people of culturally Berber descent (as opposed to Arab/arabized muslims) are more likely to become secular French *and* also more likely to become fundamentalists than Arabs.

    Anecdotal, but interesting.

    Also, the pictures he had of his ex also anecdotally demonstrated that secular Berber women are hot.

  23. Pretty sure that the projection for France (and a few other countries) are massive underestimates.
    If this is deliberate or not – European governments have a long and inglorious history of doing this – is another matter.

    For example, that French projection simply *does not square* with the sickle-cell testing proportion of newborns – which is done based purely on visible ethnicity of the parents.

    That proportion is by now most likely at 40% – and consistently increases by over 1% per annum.

    The implications are obvious.

  24. the numbers are not from french gov. they don’t do those surveys. has to be some private outfit.

    For example, that French projection simply *does not square* with the sickle-cell testing proportion of newborns – which is done based purely on visible ethnicity of the parents.

    what’s the latest english language interp of this?

  25. 2015 seems to be the last published year of the series.
    The proportion of newborns tested for sickle-cell was 38.8%.
    A rate of increase of this proportion of around 1.1% per annum seems to be reliably consistent.
    Therefore, that proportion must be at least 40% by now.

  26. The problem with muslim immigrants is that even if one generation might be not radical, this means nothing for the next ones. In France and Germany there are children of leftist or liberal parents, some being even half European by descent, but with a muslim background, and they are just far more likely to turn into muslim radicals than those with a non muslim background.
    Among those with a fully muslim background, the situation in their home country and even gepolitical changes can turn a complete generation from “moderate” to “radical”. To give an example, in a lot of German schools Turkish girls wearing a headscarf were an exception in the 1980s. But now, just some decades later, in some schools being dominated by muslim children, wearing a headscarf comes closer and closer to being the norm.

    I mean there were liberal muslim families in countries like Egypt, Syria or Afghanistan, of which a lot turned into the most radical Salafist by now.

    So the muslim cultural background has to be accounted for, because its the reservoir which can be – under specific circumstances – easily converted or just activated by radical Islamists.

    Even the European converts dont come out of thin air, but being mostly produced by a cultural environment which is predominantely muslim, like in some of the “bad neighourhoods” of France, Belgium or Germany.

    The biggest problem with the cultural evolution of Islam is, that a lot of its regressive aspects are just part of the religious core, the literature and culture by default. Christianity in contrast, with all its faults, is much more elusive and open to interpretation. Thats why its easier to re-interpret cultural norms within the Christian than in the Muslim context. There is just so much which is contradictory in the scriptures, or which was just omitted by the founders. The Koran on the other hand is much more like an instruction manual and you can’t say otherwise, because its written down exactly the way it is. To activate a proper, rational contextualisation from within the Islamic culture is just much more difficult.

    I’m also under the impression that Shia Islam is more rational and better organised in comparison to Wahabi or generally Sunni radicals. But thats probably just because the Persian culture and the Iranian state is more advanced in general? Or what do you think?

  27. On emigration of South Asians (Muslims or otherwise) from the UK, Canadian census data from 2001 showed that 20% of immigrants to Canada from 1996 to 2001 from the UK were South Asian, more than four times their share of the UK population.

    (This could be replicated using 2016 census data, but not easily)

    My interpretation is that the UK is a more racist society than Canada, and upwardly mobile south Asians emigrate to avoid a “skin colour” wage penalty. In Canada, native born south asians earn about 10% less annually than whites, all else being equal — I can share the paper for those who are interested — and I presume the UK brown skin penalty is higher (I couldn’t find good UK data– can anyone help?).

    The crazy high rates of self employment for UK Muslims also suggest the labour market is wonky there –especially when coupled with Muslim educational outcomes that are now at par or higher than white British (for new graduates).

  28. That pew report is crap.

    That’s inflammatory, so let me explain why.

    Pew does as good a job as possible on the technical aspects. Demographic projections is sausage making — you make a bunch of assumptions and hope your mistakes cancel out.

    For example, pew estimates ten percent on native born Muslims will stop identifying as muslims (based on a French study) and they assume a certain proportion of migrants will return home. Both their numbers might be wrong, but you hope the errors will cancel out. There really is no other way to do this work, and finger-in-the-air assumptions does not make the pew report crap.

    What makes it crap is that it is asking a stupid question — one that has no policy relevance, namely, how many people would check a “Muslim” box on a survey. Pew explicitly says “… quantifying religious
    devotion and categories of Muslim identity is outside the scope of this report”. Important policy questions, such as on integration, role of women, wage discrimination or education are not asked.

    It’s also a stupid question because the category of “European Muslim” is nonsensical. There are no cultural, political, or social linkages between Turkish Germans, desi Brits, and beur frenchmen. Tariq ramadan can write a book, but that doesn’t make it so.

    Would you read a study on Christians of the Arab league that combined Pilipinas in Jeddah with Lebanese Maronites and British defense expats in Abu Dhabi? Would that make any sense?

    The only use this study is for the idiots who thought America alone was a good book to pontificate on the Muslim menace — reiterating their usual stupidities (see most of the comments above).

    Basically, you can summarize the study in three words — “Muslims, ooga booga”

  29. The biggest problem with the cultural evolution of Islam is, that a lot of its regressive aspects are just part of the religious core, the literature and culture by default. Christianity in contrast, with all its faults, is much more elusive and open to interpretation. Thats why its easier to re-interpret cultural norms within the Christian than in the Muslim context. There is just so much which is contradictory in the scriptures, or which was just omitted by the founders. The Koran on the other hand is much more like an instruction manual and you can’t say otherwise, because its written down exactly the way it is. To activate a proper, rational contextualisation from within the Islamic culture is just much more difficult.

    i disagree with this.

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