The Arab Demographic Collapse

Discover Magazine’s blog reports on the collapse of the fertility rate in Arab countries, a major theme of my new book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too)

In the post below I stumbled upon a weird datum.  Kuwait’s total fertility is now below 3. The average estimates seem to be ~2.5 or so. This surprised me, as my impression was that Gulf Arab petroleum based states tended to encourage pro-natalism. This was both a matter of ideology, and also because the small and wealthy native populations lived off rents, and had not had to modify their neo-medieval ideologies to foster productivity driven economic growth. But perhaps Kuwait is an anomaly? Well, it turns out that the Saudi fertility rate is now below 3 as well. Again, depending on which numbers you trust a value of ~2.5 seems plausible. In 1980, at the peak of OPEC’s power and a period when Saudi Arabia was flush with incredible per capita wealth the fertility rate was north of 7.0. But even in the mid-1990s Saudi Arabia’s fertility remained a robust 5.0. Obviously one has to account for the fact that some of the “Arab” nations are not very Arab. The UAE has huge South Asian and Persian populations, not to mention all other sorts. So its fertility of 1.80 can be chalked up to its unique demographics. But would you have guessed that Lebanon’s fertility rate is now the same as Finland’s?

The blog features an animated graphic that shows fertility collapse over time.

Stereotypes die slowly. The demographic decline of the Muslim world has been apparent since the mid-2000s, when I first began to write about the topic. But we are so attuned to the Muslim takeover-by-birthrate narrative that we do not consider something quite as scary: a chaotic breakdown engulfing a billion people, some of whom have nuclear weapons and others who are trying to get them.