{Empty title} | The Nation

Kathryn Joyce's article does not come up to The Nation's usual standards. The writing is competent, but there is a conspicuous lack of attention to the actual debate. Ms. Joyce puts scare quotes around a lot of terms used by the right-wingers she interviews, thereby indicating to the reader that she thinks these right-wingers are bad, scary people. Fair enough; but that's not an argument on the facts.

The salient questions are these:

Is it true that the already-low (sub-replacement) birthrates of Europe are only as high as they are because they are elevated by the above-replacement-level birthrates of recent Muslim immigrants, which counterbalance the nearly non-existent birthrates in long-time European families? (Apparently so.)

Do children of long-time European families usually grow up to have enlightened attitudes regarding government and society? (I'd argue: yes.)

Do children of non-integrated and marginalized Muslim immigrant families generally grow up to have enlightened attitudes regarding government and society? (From what I read: not usually!)

Do welfare state policies economically require a working-age population larger than the retired population to function? (Economists say: yes.)

Do liberal government policies politically require a solid majority of the population favor them, if they are to continue? (In a democracy? Of course!)

How, then, does the combination of no births among longtime European families, and above-replacement births amongst Muslim immigrant families, which together average out to below-replacement levels... how does that not represent a threat to enlightened social policies in Europe?

Perhaps children of immigrants will suddenly begin to adopt Western, Enlightenment ideals. But I see no sign of it; at present, the kids are more radical than the parents.

Perhaps some new economic reality will make welfare-state arrangements cheap enough to be afforded by a working population outnumbered by its retirees. But I doubt it. So what remains?

Well, perhaps the European couples (who hold liberal and pluralistic ideals) will start having more children and passing these views on to them? (In the US, despite the occasional rebellion, there is a strong correlation between parents' political and social views and their children's.)

Sure, perhaps DINKs will give up being DINKs. But there's no sign of it.

Tax incentives intended to promote such a baby-boom seem, to me, a less onerous (more liberal) way to address the problem than, say, kicking out all the immigrants! ...or drastically reducing healthcare services and income to retirees.

Barring such solutions, it really does look like Europe has a demographic problem. Kathryn Joyce, nice person though she may be, makes it difficult to consider her an honest writer if she isn't willing to admit as much. (Perhaps she was too busy applying scare quotes.)