Yesterday, France accepted the award for highest fertility in the EU, tipping the scales at 2.0 children per woman. This from the UK Telegraph:
France’s birth rate is now two babies for every woman, the highest in Europe, the national statistics body said yesterday.
The European average is only 1.5. The birth rate in Britain is 1.8 children per woman of child-bearing age, and hovers around 1.4 in Germany, Italy and Spain. Even fewer women are giving birth in Eastern Europe. However, French women gave birth to 831,000 babies last year, the most in 25 years, according to the national body Insee.
Isn’t that special, the French are just reproducing like rabbits aren’t they. But did they give us the whole story? Should the French be poping the champaign corks or studying their Korans?
This is an excerpt from a piece called The Crescent and the Tricolor published in November 2000 in the Atlantic Monthly:
Islam has left Protestantism and Judaism far behind and is now the second religion of France. No official national statistics are kept on religion and race in France (the country, with its long tradition of equality of citizens before the state, holds such distinctions — officially, at least — to be meaningless), but the best estimates of the country’s Interior Ministry put France’s Muslim population at four million, two million of them French citizens. The historian Alain Besançon has estimated that given the meager rates of churchgoing in France (below five percent), the country now has more Muslims than practicing Catholics. In 1994 Le Monde found that 27 percent of Muslims were believing and practicing — which means that Islam may someday be the country’s predominant religion if one measures by the number of people who practice it.
But Islam’s weight in France is even greater than that, particularly for the generation to come. For one thing, immigrants and their descendants are concentrated in a few important cities and regions (Paris, Marseille, Rhône-Alpes, Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing). For another, although France’s non-Muslim population has replaced itself at roughly the Western European rate of 1.3 births per woman, immigrants from Islamic countries have been three to four times as fertile for quite some time. The birth rate among Algerian women was 4.4 in 1981 and 3.5 in 1990. That among Moroccans was 5.8 and 3.5 in those years, and among Tunisians 5.1 and 4.2. These numbers do show natality declining toward the national average, but only slowly. Meanwhile, the disparity in birth rates and the concentration of the Muslim population means that in certain French metropolises a new generation of citizens — those born from the 1970s to the 1990s — is one third Muslim.
France has the second highest percentage of Muslims in the entire EU (second only to tiny Bulgaria, who’s birth rate suffers from the Eastern European slump and only joined the EU on January 1st of this year), it makes perfect sense that their birth rate would surpass that of countries with smaller Muslim populations.
Paging doctor Steyn, doctor Mark Steyn…you’re needed at the maternity ward of Broussais Hospital in Paris.