Top 5 Demography Myths

In this post, I intend to disprove or at least question five commonly encountered myths about world demography (as I already did for Russia).

1. The Third World is experiencing a fertility-driven population explosion. Whereas this was true a generation ago, today most countries outside sub-Saharan Africa are in the later throes of demographic transition (the term “Third World” itself is no longer a very useful moniker). Not only is practically all of the industrialized world – Europe, the Anglo-Saxon world, Eurasia – at or below replacement level fertility rates (TFR), but countries like China, Turkey, Iran, Algeria and Brazil have joined them. Population growth in these countries is now driven primarily by the (artificially) low death rates and high birth rates typical of young populations.

As the map of world fertility rates below shows, there are now practically no regions outside Africa where women are expected to bear three or more children, even in traditional societies like the Middle East.

world-fertility-map

There are few exceptions. These include particularly poor countries like Pakistan (4.0), oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia (3.1) where resource wealth has charged ahead of socio-economic development, and countries like Israel (3.0) that are afflicted by conflict demography.

2. Fast-breeding Muslims will soon take over Europe and create a “Eurabia” Caliphate. This theory that fecund Muslims will stage a demographic takeover of Europe because of their innate hatred of Western civilization only really enjoys support from assorted yahoos like radical Islamists, European fascists and American neocons like Mark Steyn in his book America Alone (which I reviewed here). More serious demographers tend to dismiss these scenarios because they rely on many questionable assumptions such as the following:

  • There are already hordes of uncounted Muslims in the EU. At least on paper, that is not the case – most estimates give Muslims around 15m-20mn of the EU’s 450mn+ population; only in France do they approach 10% of the population. Though it is possible some are uncounted, there is no convincing evidence for this.
  • Muslims form a monolithic, illiberal entity resistant to secularization. While there are such pockets in Europe’s inner cities, Islam in Europe is so differentiated by ethnicity and levels of religiosity that it makes little sense to speak of a united Islamist front. The future of religious fervor is nigh impossible to predict, but the current pro-Islamist trend may – or may not – last as long as the post-colonial nationalist one from 1945 to the 1970′s.
  • Muslim fertility rates are much higher than native Europeans’ and will not converge to their level. As a rule, Muslim fertility in the EU tends to be around one child higher than amongst the indigenous population, though there are plenty of variations by region and Muslim ethnicity. Furthermore, these is a general trend towards convergence of Muslim fertility towards European averages. Though Muslims can be expected to keep expanding their share of the population due to their younger age profiles (lower death rates, higher birth rates) and immigration, at current trends they will not become majorities any time soon.
  • Europeans will take in ever bigger numbers of Muslim immigrants to support their failing welfare states. But most Muslim countries are already far advanced in their demographic transitions. Traditional people exporters like Turkey or the Maghreb are hardly bursting at the seams nowadays, and economic growth is bringing opportunities to their youth. Why would they want to migrate to sclerotic Europe that is, furthermore, becoming increasingly right-wing on immigration?
  • More Europeans will “revert” to Islam, while ever more Christians leave emerging Eurabia for America Alone. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for both trends, they do not seem to have any significant impact in absolute numbers.

In conclusion, all or most of these assumptions will have to be fulfilled for Europe as a continent to become endangered by the specter of “Eurabia” within the next decades. As it stands, however, the 1) retention of post-religiosity, 2) intensified clash of civilizations, or 3) return to fascism, must all figure as more likely scenarios for Europe’s future than the Crescent*.

3. Europe is a demographic abyss whose welfare states are doomed to collapse under their aging and shrinking populations. This is a favorite of American neocons and European right-wingers. Though this is a serious threat to some European states (particularly Club Med), the picture across Europe is far more varied and complex. In terms of their demographic health, there are three main groupings.

europe-fertility

[The TFR's of the five biggest European countries 1960-2008.  Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators - Last updated June 15, 2010.]

First, the Scandinavian states, France, and the UK have total fertility rates (TFR’s) of 1.7-2.1 children per woman, which corresponds to long-term demographic stability. Barring severe fiscal mismanagement or vulnerability to energy cutoffs (both most visible in Britain) their current welfare states are probably sustainable.

Second, the East-Central European nations have an uncertain future. Although their fertility rates plummeted during the early 1990′s, they may yet recover in the years ahead – though it is important that they do so before the big 1980′s cohort passes its child-bearing years. This is more likely in pro-natality and energy-rich Russia, less likely in indebted Hungary or crippled Latvia. Poland lies in the middle.

Third, the countries in the worst positions are in the Teutonic and Mediterranean regions. The German fertility rate fell well below the replacement level rate of 2.1 children per woman back in the early 1970′s and has since hovered below 1.5. They have not been replacing themselves for a full generation now – and with desired TFR’s at 1.8, the lowest in Europe, they are not going to start doing so any time soon. Their fall into a “death spiral” is now near inevitable, albeit its consequences will be mitigated by Germany’s enduring fiscal and industrial strength.

Though the TFR of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece fell below 1.5 children per woman about ten to fifteen years after the Teutons, their futures may be even bleaker because they have unsustainable debt loads and few competitive export industries. Their coming economic collapse will pull them further into the demographic abyss.

4. People in developing nations are dying like flies. Much like the myth of their high fertility rates, this is no longer true in most cases. Most countries in Latin America, the Middle East, East Asia, and even South Asia have life expectancies above or approaching 70 years. This is not much different from the typical life expectancy in an advanced industrialized nation which is typically at 75-83 years. This is not surprising. Once a country acquires basic sanitation, obstetrics, vaccination and antibiotics services, life expectancy usually rises to around 70-75 years. Advanced – and very expensive – healthcare adds on the additional decade seen in the most developed nations.

[Beyond a certain minimal level of income, life expectancy approaches the boundaries of its theoretical maximum. Source.]

Today, the only world region that has not acquired the rudiments of basic healthcare is sub-Saharan Africa. Places where life expectancy is somewhat lower than expected relative to their income are 1) nations like South Africa or Botswana afflicted with uncontrolled AIDS epidemics and 2) post-socialist nations like Russia or Ukraine which drink far too much**. Likewise, even relatively poor or middle-rank countries like Cuba or Costa Rica can achieve developed nation life expectancies though good policies and health environments.

5. Demographic projections, such as those of the UN, are reliable for both individual countries and the world. In reality, they become largely useless after about a single generation.

First, fertility trends are extremely difficult to predict. Back in the 1920′s, one statistician’s “low scenario” indicated that France’s population would fall to around 29 million by 1980 based on a linear projection of current trends; in reality, it rose to 54 millions. Predictions of an Iranian population spiraling into the hundreds of millions in the 1980′s have been invalidated by the unprecedentedly rapid fertility decline in the Islamic Republic. Much the same criticism can be made of the apocalyptic visions generated by linear extrapolations showing Russia’s population falling to 100 million or less by 2050.

Second, these global forecasts all tend to ignore the intimate relation demographic trends have with the economy, politics, and the environment. According to the findings of the Club of Rome, the world’s population has already overshot its limits and cannot be sustained in the long term without major transformations. If their darker forecasts materialize, the world’s future demography could be determined by the geography of economic collapse, Malthusian crisis and climate refugees by as early as 2030.

ltg-standard

[The alternate future of the Limits to Growth "standard run". Source.]

* I’ll be doing a more detailed post on the assumptions behind the Eurabia debate in the future.

** However, the alcohol epidemic mostly afflicts middle-aged men in Eurasia. It has little to no discernible impact on the mortality of women before or during their child-bearing years and as such does not much affect those countries’ long-term demographic prospects. Ironically, it actually strengthens their fiscal position, because many men die before reaching their retirement age.

Comments

  1. “As a rule, Muslim fertility in the EU tends to be around one children higher than amongst the indigenous population…”

    I thought it was illegal to collect ethnically-specific statistics in most European countries. How can the Muslim TFR in Europe be known? It IS legal to collect such data in the US though. The data shows that Mexican-American fertility rate is far above the rate in Mexico. Why? Because it’s easier to feed a large family in America than in Mexico. The desire to have large families is normally mostly a function of religiosity and Mexican-American religiosity appears to be the same as Mexican religiosity. So the goal (large families) remains the same, but the means to achieve it increase once the person moves to a first-world country. I’m assuming that this dynamic holds for Muslims in Europe as well. The coming debt-driven collapse of Western welfare states may change this dynamic. Nothing else will.

    “Why would they want to migrate to sclerotic Europe…”

    Because European countries are paying them to sit around and not work.

    I realize that my next point will make me look barking mad to someone who’s a social liberal, but I was once a left-winger too, and in retrospect I wish that my lefty beliefs would have been challenged more often while I still had them.

    A decrease in average quality is a much bigger problem for individual countries and for the future of civilization than a decrease in quantity. I don’t know of any society that is not moving in the dysgenic direction. High school dropouts outbreed high school graduates who outbreed college graduates who outbreed graduate school alumni, etc., etc. the world over. There’s a ton of data on that. Adoption studies and other means have long ago shown to us that IQ is to a large extent hereditary. The stuff that’s being lost now required thousands of generations of an extremely cruel Darwinian process to come about. And it’s unique and may never come about again.

    Before the industrial age idiots tended to lack the means to support large families, but modern technology, none of which was invented by idiots, has, for the first time ever, allowed them to breed as much as they’ve always wanted. That’s a big problem. The spread of nihilistic secular morality among the intelligent is as much a problem now as it was in imperial Rome. That definitely has an effect on TFR. A simple mind will never be able to imagine a world that is moved by cold, impersonal forces, so secularism can never become a threat to low IQ folks’ fertility.

    I’m skeptical of climate-related doomsday scenarios, I don’t think running out of oil would in any way threaten civilization, I don’t think a nuclear WWIII will ever be likely, but the current dysgenic trends may well end up killing the only civilization we know of in the entire Universe, maybe the only one that’s ever existed. Something to think about.

    • I did an introductory, imperfect, post on the French situation back in 2004. France doesn’t collect any statistics on religion and stands out in that regard, but it’s possible to make fairly sophisticated inferences based on what information does exist. The United States and France have similar demographic profiles in that both populations evidence near-replacement fertility, with a single large broad immigrant contingent (Hispanics in North America, Muslims in Europe) evidencing completed fertility about one child above the national average. (In other respects, they’re quite different, insofar as the process of family formation is concerned.)

      Other European countries do keep those statistics, or at least collect data that allow for their accurate reconstruction. In a February 2008 post at Demography Matters I linked to (and commented upon) a study by Westkoff and Frejka, summarized here, that made the point that across Europe relatively higher rates of fertility among different Muslim populations is largely a consequence of religiosity and social distance.

      “The data shows that Mexican-American fertility rate is far above the rate in Mexico. Why? Because it’s easier to feed a large family in America than in Mexico. The desire to have large families is normally mostly a function of religiosity and Mexican-American religiosity appears to be the same as Mexican religiosity.”

      That might be a factor, but it’s not a dominant factor. Emigrants are never perfectly representative of a source population; emigrants always come disproportionately from one cluster of subpopulations or another, and behave in ways which differ quite significantly from norms of their source populations and their destinations. Arguably they’re much more conservative than either their rapdiy changing ancestral homeland or the country where they live.

      Conservatism, mind, doesn’t necessarily produce high birth rates; the emphasis on traditional family structures certainly hasn’t helped boost birth rates in Italy or Spain. At any rate, relatively higher fertility among members of diasporas than in their source countries is common enough. In France, women born in Italy or Spain have higher fertility rates than women who remained in their home country. Perhaps it’s because a more liberal France lets them combine their desires for family and career more effectively. Who knows?

      To what extent is the welfare state involved in immigrant fertility? To the extent that protections for existing jobs might inhibit job creation, and that this along with problems of qualifications among immigrants and anti-immigrant biases among employers might increase social distance, it could boost it. To the extent that it might break down the traditionalist mores that inhibit female participation in the workplace and society generally, it might lower it.

      • “…emphasis on traditional family structures certainly hasn’t helped boost birth rates in Italy or Spain.”

        I disagree with your characterisation of modern Italian and Spanish societies as traditional. These are highly secular nations. I haven’t looked at any statistics showing the frequency of church attendence, pre-marital sex and the like, but I’d be really surprised if Spain and Italy differed on them from the rest of Europe by very much.

        • I concede that Spain is different from Italy, but as much as Italy has evolved it is still a conservative country by European standards: nearly all children are born into wedlock, there are few legal provisions made for relationships other than standard opposite-sex marriage, there are relatively few provisionsfor altering gender roles within marriage, reproductive technologies are regulated to the point of being practically inaccessible, and parent-child relations remain very close well into adulthood. In western Europe, if France stands at one end of a continuum, Italy stands at the other.

          • “…as much as Italy has evolved it is still a conservative country…”

            See, your biases are different from mine: when I see a move away from conservatism, I’m more likey to use verbs like devolved or declined than evolved.

            “…and parent-child relations remain very close well into adulthood. ”

            The pattern where children move away from home around the age of 17 in order to set up their own nuclear families or just to live alone is traditional for Germanic countries and for France north of the St. Melo – Geneva line. That pattern has existed for millenia. It’s just as traditional for the north as extended families and staying at home into adulthood are traditional for the Mediterranean. In other words, Spaniards and Italians are behaving just as traditionally as northerners here. The two regions simply have different traditions.

            • Conservatism’s a constantly evolving ideology. A couple of centuries ago, France’s early 21st century conservatives–republicans, committed to democracy and equal rights for women and others, not all that religious–would have been far to the left of even the most radical factions in 1789 or 1848. (So’s liberalism, but different issue.)

    • I wanted to start a separate sub-thread for this, since you raised two separate issues.

      “High school dropouts outbreed high school graduates who outbreed college graduates who outbreed graduate school alumni, etc., etc. the world over.”

      It’s practically a truism, yes, that people with lower levels of education tend to have larger families than people with higher levels of education, but how does this map onto inherited intelligence–how must this map onto inherited intelligence?–when any number of other factors are involved with educational performance?

      “Before the industrial age idiots tended to lack the means to support large families, but modern technology, none of which was invented by idiots, has, for the first time ever, allowed them to breed as much as they’ve always wanted.”

      How does this fit with the rapid progression towards low and even sub-replacement fertility worldwide, again? If anything, the increasing ability of human eonomies to produce larger and larger surpluses of income and goods above that which is needed to sustain their associated populations has been much more strongly associated with decreasing completed fertility.

      “The spread of nihilistic secular morality among the intelligent is as much a problem now as it was in imperial Rome.”

      Nihilism? I get that you are describing something in prejorative terms, but what are you trying to describe?

      • “It’s practically a truism, yes, that people with lower levels of education tend to have larger families than people with higher levels of education, but how does this map onto inherited intelligence–how must this map onto inherited intelligence?”

        I think I’ve seen statistically-significant positive correlations between IQ levels and the number of years spent in the classroom. I happen to be on my lunch break right now, but if you want, I’ll look up the actual numbers once I have some free time. Barring severe head trauma and the like, IQ is stable from the earliest age when it can be reliably measured (around 5 years old) until senility sets in. This implies that education does not increase one’s IQ, but that high IQ has a tendency to lead one to seek out more and more education.

        “How does this fit with the rapid progression towards low and even sub-replacement fertility worldwide, again? ”

        I don’t think the word worldwide is justified here. Africa and most of the Middle East aren’t rapidly progressing towards low fertility. And if not for the AIDS epidemic, Africa’s growth rate would be even higher than it is.

        “If anything, the increasing ability of human eonomies to produce larger and larger surpluses of income and goods above that which is needed to sustain their associated populations has been much more strongly associated with decreasing completed fertility.”

        I think that this is mostly due to the spread of secularism among high-IQ populations.

        “Nihilism? I get that you are describing something in prejorative terms, but what are you trying to describe?”

        You know, the idea that there is no absolute standard of morality, no God-given set of behavioral rules. Everything is relative. Hedonism – if it makes you happy, embrace it. The idea that there is no purpose in life, and that consequently one should just maximize one’s enjoyment of it and not worry about anything else. In this sort of mentality kids are viewed as a drag.

        • OK, a few minutes of Googling turned up this table of correlations between IQ and various life outcomes:

          http://www.iq-tests.eu/iq-test-Practical-validity-800.html

          Total years of education is in there, with the correlation coefficient of 0.55. I first read about most of these correlations years ago in Arthur Jensen’s “The g Factor”. It’s the most authoritative book on the fascinating science of intelligence. I recommend it highly.

        • Sorry your comments didn’t go through. I guess Akismet thought your link was spam. It makes mistakes like this sometimes, but without it the blog would be a sea of spam.

        • “This implies that education does not increase one’s IQ, but that high IQ has a tendency to lead one to seek out more and more education.”

          But the page that you link to below doesn’t suggest that IQ is as determinative as all that, one referenced article claiming that “90 to 95%” of socioeconomic differences could be traced to non-IQ related reasons.

          Differences in educational outcomes can relate to IQ, yes, but any number of other factors–environmental ones–also play a role. An extreme example is South Africa. Yes, non-whites–especially blacks–have poorer educational outcomes than whites, and have lower incomes and so on, but those differences can be traced to a century of policies maintained by different governments which not only strictly limited the educational and other opportunities available to non-whites, but which actively worked to destroy social capital by actively excluding blacks, justifying catastrohic underinvestment in health and education and housing by talking about non-white inferiority as the causal factor for these differences.

          There’s also the Flynn effect that needs to be accounted for.

          South Africa is an extreme example, yes, I know. There are still plenty of other examples of societies where, for one reason or another–historical levels of investment, communities’ inherited social capital, language differences, et cetera–some groups of people aren’t as plugged into public education as other groups.

          “I don’t think the word worldwide is justified here. Africa and most of the Middle East aren’t rapidly progressing towards low fertility.”

          Africa and the Middle East are home to barely more than one billion of the Earth’s six billion, and people in the more developed countries in these areas–Iran, Turkey, Algeria, South Africa–have been responding to increased levels of social and economic development by proceeding down the path of the demographic transition like their counterparts elsewhere.

          “And if not for the AIDS epidemic, Africa’s growth rate would be even higher than it is.”

          Only somewhat higher, and that most notably in the region of southern Africa where the demographic transition is generally more advanced anyway and significantly increased death rates have a relatively greater impact. The only countries experiencing HIV/AIDS-related natural decrease (or something close to this) are those countries which, like South Africa, combine low completed fertility with catastrophically high double-digit rates of HIV seropositivity.

          “If anything, the increasing ability of human eonomies to produce larger and larger surpluses of income and goods above that which is needed to sustain their associated populations has been much more strongly associated with decreasing completed fertility.”

          “I think that [the increased surpluses of modern human economies] is mostly due to the spread of secularism among high-IQ populations.”

          How so?

          Anyway, insofar as the fertility/intelligence relationship goes, even if I did agree with you there’s not an inevitable link: if women don’t have as many children as they might want, that’s substantially the product of elements of their environment–the impossibility of finding a desirable balance between family and work–that can definitely be changed, and has definitely been changed in many societies.

          “[Nihilism:] the idea that there is no absolute standard of morality, no God-given set of behavioral rules. Everything is relative. Hedonism – if it makes you happy, embrace it. The idea that there is no purpose in life, and that consequently one should just maximize one’s enjoyment of it and not worry about anything else. In this sort of mentality kids are viewed as a drag.”

          Sorry, that seems like a bit of a straw man argument to me. Is that what people actually think? Is that an inevitable consequence of that mindset? I’m not convinced. If we were to compare (say) France and Italy, which is the leasst “nihilistic” society and which evidences the highest completed fertiluity rate?

          • Randy, I haven’t read the article that claimed that 90 to 95% of socioeconomic diferences can be traced to IQ. I think that’s too high. I’ve seen articles claiming a 50% contribution of all environmental influences. Jensen’s “The g Factor” is the best source for actual data. Early childhood nutrition does have some effect on IQ, but not too much of an effect – otherwise my parents’ generation in Russia (born in 1946 and 1947 respectively) and in the rest of Eastern and Central Europe would be literally retarded. No one who’s dealt with people from that generation thinks that it’s cognitively deficient, and yet those people had experienced some food shortages in their formative years.

            “…but which actively worked to destroy social capital by actively excluding blacks…”

            In your underlying assumptions you seem to agree with me here more than you probably realize or would want to admit. Please read back what you wrote above. You seem to be implying that blacks were hurt by being excluded from white social structures, right? That they can’t be blamed for not creating their own schools for example, but that whites can be blamed for excluding blacks from schools that they, whites, have created. Noblese oblige, white man’s burden and all of that. In other words, you don’t expect blacks to craete good schools of their own. Presumably because, subconsciously at least, you don’t think they can. Otherwise, why would you think that excluding them from other people’s schools would hurt them at all? When you refuse to provide shelter to a man, you only really hurt him if he is in fact homeless.

            “…justifying catastrohic underinvestment in health and education…”

            More of the same. If I refuse to share my earnings with you, am I catastrophically underinvesting your lifestyle? And how can you chastize people for their lack of noblesse oblige if you even refuse to acknowledge their, um, noblesse? How rude is that? Tsk, tsk.

            Most African countries were only European colonies for a few decades. If I remember my history correctly, Italian envolvement in Ethiopia was especially trivial. Does Ethiopia have better educational outcomes than South Africa?

            If our host allows, I’ll respond to the rest of your comments when I have more free time.

            • “Randy, I haven’t read the article that claimed that 90 to 95% of socioeconomic diferences can be traced to IQ.”

              Read that “can be traced to non-IQ-related influences”

            • Glossy:

              “In your underlying assumptions you seem to agree with me here more than you probably realize or would want to admit. Please read back what you wrote above. You seem to be implying that blacks were hurt by being excluded from white social structures, right?”

              White-dominated social structures, sure. For a variety of reasons, perhaps the most important of which was the mfecane that depopulated the South African interior, giving the Voortrekkers the space necessary to let them form independent republics that would eventually get absorbed into a British settlers’ dominion, the various black ethnic groups outside of the Cape Colony ended up getting being brought into said settlers’ dominion.

              It’s not unreasonable to imagine that, subjects rather than citizens–or, as the creation of the Bantustands stated, as irrelevant to the South African polity as anything other than sources of cheap disposable labour–even modest levels of investment by the South African state in public education, housing, and health care could have paid huge dividends. Neglecting to invest much in a demographic that never amounted to less than three-quarters of your nation’s population is foolish, especially when the demographic in question is poor and needs external investment.

              Unfortunately, apartheid’s raison d’etre was foolish. This 1994 UNDP report noted that, if the figures for the nation were disaggregated, South African whites’ HDI would have been on the order of Spain’s while South African blacks’ would have been on the order of Congo (Brazzaville)’s. The South African state terribly neglected public health–the current HIV/AIDS epidemic is only following in the paths of tuberculosis, which became an endemic disease thanks to the circular migration of workers from mines to shantytowns that apartheid’s administrators encouraged in the place of a more rational urbanization, and thanks to pervasive state underinvestment in public health and housing for blacks driven fundamentally by racist contempt. In The Coming Plague, Laurie Garrett suggests that the apartheid government went so far as to blame high rates of tuberculosis on blacks’ genetic susceptibility! Similarly, South Africa’s education systems was biased against producing large numbers of educated blacks, provincial governments making the choice before apartheid to concentrate their funds on educating whites and the apartheid government explicitly stating that it wanted to educate blacks to a lower standard than whites.

              (Coloureds and Indians occupied an intermediate status between the two larger demographics, of course.)

              “In other words, you don’t expect blacks to craete good schools of their own. Presumably because, subconsciously at least, you don’t think they can.”

              They did, actually. Given that South Africa’s non-whites constituted the overwhelming majority of the population of a fairly wealthy and technologically sophisticated, it’s not at all unreasonable to expect that a rational and ethical South African government wouldn’t have so terribly neglected the bulk of its population. Unfortunately apartheid wasn’t ethical, and it was rational only inasmuch as it existed to protect the privileges of a small minority of the population.

              “Otherwise, why would you think that excluding them from other people’s schools would hurt them at all?”

              ‘Other people’s schools’?

              “Most African countries were only European colonies for a few decades. If I remember my history correctly, Italian envolvement in Ethiopia was especially trivial. Does Ethiopia have better educational outcomes than South Africa?”

              It doesn’t, but that’s comparing apples with oranges. Ethiopia has long been a terribly poor country; South Africa has not been. As a consequence of decades of sustained underinvestment by the South African state in the lives of the large majority of its citizens, explicitly to the advantage of whites who would be spared competition on the labour market, South African blacks (and other non-whites) are far worse off than they would have been under a state that didn’t discriminate so blatantly against them. Imagine that in the 1960s, instead of saying blacks should only be educated to a low level that wouldn’t bring them in competition with established white workers, the South African government had made commitments to educating its entire population to equal standards. Imagine that in the 1970s, instead of blaming poor health outcomes on black genetic inferiority and trying to shove an embarrassingly unhealthy population off the census into homelands outside of the government’s nominal control, the South African government had decided to embark on campaigns of investment in health infrastructure for everyone and to engage in a bit of urban renewal. Imagine that, instead of engaging in the mass ethnic cleansing of urban areas using militarized police, South Africa let its population urbanize without creating terribly deprived and overpopulated rural ghettos.

              South Africa has done amazingly well so far. If only the 1948 election had gone differently and the country not been governed for the next couple of generations by people who treated most of the country’s population as enemies unworthy of any claims on the South African state, it might have done much better still. Botswana, after all, was able to catch up or even surpass South Africa in terms of HDI and GDP per capita by managing a natural resource-driven boom and avoiding horrible public policies. What could a more rational South Africa have achieved?

              Prejudices made into policy hurt everyone. South Africa`s only an extreme example of this.

              • “Similarly, South Africa’s education systems was biased against producing large numbers of educated blacks…”

                Randy, you seem to have forgotten something essential here. Since Arabs never ventured that far south, there was no literacy in South Africa before whites came there. Since there was no literacy, there was no education in the commonly-accepted sense of that word. No doctors either of course. All the education you see among South African blacks right now is ultimately the product of white benevolence. Since a miner doesn’t have to be literate to perform his job adequately, utilitarian explanations for why whites set up schools in South Africa don’t sound plausible. I’m sure that most of that effort was motivated by Christian charity. And you’re demonizing the Brits and the Boers for what exactly here, not being charitable ENOUGH? What have you personally done in the charitable vein that allows you to pass such judgments on others? Why do you think it is other whites’ (not your own presumably?) duty to work for the benefit of blacks? Are there any black folks where you live? What have you personally done to benefit them that allows you to criticize the scale of the Boers’ efforts in that field? And even if you do engage in acts of noblesse oblige towards black people in your personal life, what exactly would that show? I don’t need any noblesse oblige from you, a random Chinese guy reading a calculus textbook on the bus doesn’t either, but blacks do? Have you ever asked yourself why?

                “…and trying to shove an embarrassingly unhealthy population off the census into homelands outside of the government’s nominal control…”

                So you think that leaving them to their own devices was cruel? Do you look at them as children? Do you think that leaving Malays to their own devices is cruel? How about the Swiss? Any thoughts on the morality of leaving the Japanese to their own devices?

                “…instead of saying blacks should only be educated to a low level…”

                But any level at all is an improvement on what they had when whites came ashore. How can you not see that? And the Bantustans could have created their own school systems if they were interested in that sort of thing. Did Hindu brahmins need any prodding from the British in order to create or pass on their literary culture?

                “Ethiopia has long been a terribly poor country; South Africa has not been.”

                But that’s only because there used to be a lot of whites and Indians in South Africa. Now that they’re fleeing black violence, South Africa is reverting to its natural state, which, I’d imagine, would be lower than Ethiopia’s on all the measures that count. Something similar happened years ago in Uganda when the locals chased out all the Indian businessmen.

                The future of Africa appears to be squarely in Chinese hands now. The Chinese do not subscribe to a universalist religion and they’re far more ethnocentric than the Boers had ever been. I’m sure that their treatment of Africans will be harsher than anything that was seen under the apartheid or during the 19th century. They’re certainly not going to try to educate them. They tend look at European universalist attitudes as naive.

              • Me: “In other words, you don’t expect blacks to craete good schools of their own. Presumably because, subconsciously at least, you don’t think they can.”

                Randy: “They did, actually. ”

                Ah, if you think that S. African blacks did create them, then why do you spend much of the rest of your comment decrying the low levels of their education and blaming whites for said low levels? You’re contradicting yourself.

              • “Since Arabs never ventured that far south, there was no literacy in South Africa before whites came there.”

                What relevance does the late diffusion of literacy to southern Africa have to the apartheid state’s limits on the education that non-white South Africans could receive?

                “And you’re demonizing the Brits and the Boers for what exactly here, not being charitable ENOUGH?”

                What happened in South Africa wasn’t the consequence of a generally well-meaning state’s failure to do what it wanted to do. What happened was the consequence of a state with malign intent doing its very best to make the large majority of the country’s population over into a racially-defined helot class excluded from citizenship. Creating a helot class isn’t a charitable act.

                “So you think that leaving them to their own devices was cruel? Do you look at them as children?”

                “Laissez-faire” is a concept that is pretty distinct from “malign neglect” and “actuive If South Africa hadn’t bothered to provide any public services to any of the segments of its population, but was just a very minimal state concerned with national defense and certain elements of macroeconomics, then you could call it laissez-faire. But it wasn’t.

                Apartheid-era South Africa claimed its entire population, black and white and other, as citizens, and the state provided a long list of services–publically funded education and health care, say, or state housing programs–for only one of its populations, even funding these services from taxes imposed on the country’s other populations. That isn’t neglect. That’s the consequence of a long series of choices.

                Cape Town’s District Six didn’t vanish because the locals were bored. District Six vanished because the South African government decided to destroy it. Hardly laissez-faire, that.

                By the 1970s, South Africa’s government did not consider most of its non-white population to be citizens. It went so far as to denationalize the majority of the country’s population without its consent, imposing upon them the citizenship of one Bantustan or another. That internal ethnic cleansing is pretty much without parallel.

                “But any level at all is an improvement on what they had when whites came ashore. How can you not see that?”

                Granted that the low levels of human development achieved under apartheid for non-whites constituted some progress, the evidence seems to be pretty clear that the South African state–with the consent, explicit or otherwise, of the majority of the electorate–did its very best to keep non-whites from following suit. Even with their own energies: District Six was a self-sustaining neighbourhood, but the South African government was so concerned with maintaining a white monopoly on cities that it decided to destroy the neighbourhood.

                “But that’s only because there used to be a lot of whites and Indians in South Africa.”

                And there still are; the large majority of whites and Indians living in South Africa in 1994 still live in South Africa today. (The Coloureds, the majority population of the western half of South Africa, have remained in their homeland almost entirely.)

                One of the huge ironies of apartheid is that, in the long run, it ended up worsening things so much for the whites who were supposed to benefit from it. Taking the large majority of your country’s population, depriving non-whites of the civil and property rights that whites took for granted and choosing not to make the same investments in non-white human capital that were made among whites, doing your best to wreck what little progress the majority population did make by doing everything up to and including levelling the neighbourhoods they lived in, and generally doing everything that you can do to wreck interethnic and interracial relations, is an excellent way to ensure your country’s violent self-destruction and your own community’s obliteration. It says a lot about the moral quality of South Africans that they managed to pull back from the brink. (If only the United Party had won the 1948 elections, so many South Africans’ lives would have been better off.)

                I’m not going to prejudge the contour of Sino-African relations, although it is worth noting that the only thing vaguely similar to a Chinese colonialism in Africa is the Chinese anti-piracy naval deployment off Somalia. So far Africans seem to be benefiting from trade with China, notwithstanding concerns about the implications on governance. Me, I’m inclined to say that Africans can only benefit if their countries have as many potential trade partners competing as they can. Diversified links with the wider world are good.

                “South Africa is reverting to its natural state, which, I’d imagine, would be lower than Ethiopia’s on all the measures that count.”

                Pre-industrial countries, in Europe and Africa and Asia, do tend towards a certain sameness.

                Anyway. The point that I had made, briefly, above was that blaming low human development stats among black South Africans on their genetic inheritance completely overlooks what the South African state did over the 20th century with the explicit intent of keeping its non-white majority poor, unhealthy, ill-educated, and entirely lacking in agency. A South Africa that had followed more rational policies–if only Malan won!–wouldn’t have accumulated nearly the number of messes that the apartheid government did.

              • Oh, and in reply to your post of 8:57 PM.

                “Me: “In other words, you don’t expect blacks to craete good schools of their own. Presumably because, subconsciously at least, you don’t think they can.”

                Randy: “They did, actually. ”

                Ah, if you think that S. African blacks did create them, then why do you spend much of the rest of your comment decrying the low levels of their education and blaming whites for said low levels? You’re contradicting yourself.”

                Yeah, that was sloppy.

                South Africa’s various non-white populations did take to imported school systems to various degrees. While normal blockages–shortages of labour, shortages of money, shortages of interest–delayed the uptake of education early on, as I’ve documented elsewhere the spread of education was actively discouraged by a South African government that was hostile to the idea of blacks (and other non-whites) being educated to the level of whites. This fits, I think you’ll see, with the various evidences I’ve linked to here documenting how under apartheid the South African government did its very best to disdevelop non-whites, through means as various as ethnic cleansing and quiet underfunding. Leaving aside conventional racism, South African whites don’t seem to have wanted any competition, any threat to their privileged status. This was common across the board, BTW. Remember the old SACP slogan, “Workers of the world, unite and fight for a white South Africa!” (I love how Wikipedia explains the genesis of this slogan.)

                The large mining concerns, facing labour shortages and wage pressures, had announced their intention of liberalizing the rigid colour bar within the mines and elevate some blacks to minor supervisory positions. (The vast majority of white miners mainly held supervisory positions over the laboring black miners.) Despite having nominally opposed racialism from its inception, the CPSA supported the white miners in their call to preserve wages and the colour bar with the slogan “Workers of the world, unite and fight for a white South Africa!”. With the failure of the rising, in part due to black workers failing to strike, the Communist Party was forced by Comintern to adopt the Native Republic thesis which stipulated that South Africa was a country belonging to the Natives, that is, the Blacks.

                Blacks–and other non-whites– clearly wanted to develop. Whites, by and large, didn’t want them to do that. Thus, apartheid, which did manage to stall their development for much too long.

            • That’s fine by me. Race and IQ is an accepted discussion topic here.

          • A few more reactions:

            “…by talking about non-white inferiority as the causal factor for these differences.”

            That word non-white. There are lots of Indians in South Africa and they’ve always done better than blacks there – under apartheid or not, economically, educationally and in every other important way. My explanation for that is simple – tests have shown that Indians have a higher mean IQ than blacks. Do you have an alternative explanation?

            “…some groups of people aren’t as plugged into public education as other groups.”

            Yes, but some groups of people have created their own educational systems from scratch. They didn’t need to wait for others to include them in other people’s educational systems. Obviously, Europeans are one example. Middle Easterners, East Indians, East Asians all created their own literate traditions of varying complexity. South African blacks did not. When Japan was first discovered by the Portuguese and the Dutch in the 17th century its literacy rate was above that of Europe. This fact fits easily into my worldview (Japan has a mean IQ of 105). Do you have an alternative explanation for it? How come a history of evil British colonialism worked out so well for Hong Kong and Singapour? Southern Chinese have a mean IQ of 102 or thereabouts, sub-Saharans – around 70. Some human populations entered the 20th century without agriculture, iron tools, literacy, while others entered it on steam ships and trains. I read “Guns, Germs and Steel” shortly after it came out and I think that straightforward Darwinism and intelligence research explain these facts in a more plausible, less convoluted, more common-sensical way than Jared Diamond did.

            “Is that what people actually think?”

            Real people have told me that they thought that life had no purpose and that therefore they were going to prioritize their enjoyment of it above all else. It’s not an uncommon sentiment.

            “If we were to compare (say) France and Italy, which is the leasst “nihilistic” society and which evidences the highest completed fertiluity rate?”

            They’re close. So close that I’d hesitate to guess which one’s more decadent. I don’t think northern Italy ever lagged behind France on any trend, positive or negative. Southern Italy used to be more conservative than was normal for Europe, but that hasn’t been true for decades now, I don’t think.

            As for the TFRs: France has more Muslims than does Italy. Muslims aren’t nihilistic. Do you have any figures comparing the TFRs of ethnic French in France and ethnic Italians in Italy?

            “How so?”

            I meant that secularism depresses fertility. You thought that I meant that secularism has positive effects on economies. I should have expressed myself more clearly.

            • “That word non-white.”

              Yeah, that is pretty much of a grab bag, besides being negatively defined.

              “There are lots of Indians in South Africa and they’ve always done better than blacks there – under apartheid or not, economically, educationally and in every other important way.”

              South African Indians, like South Africa’s Coloureds, do generally occupy a position, income- and human development-wise, intermediate between blacks and whites.

              “My explanation for that is simple – tests have shown that Indians have a higher mean IQ than blacks. Do you have an alternative explanation?

              Opting for monocausal explaantions for pretty complex phenomena is certainly reductionist.

              While I hope this explanation isn’t reductionist, perhaps the single most important factor is the fact that the community descends from self-selected migrants. The indentured labourers who crossed the Indian Ocean to work in Natal’s sugarcane fields made a canny choice that gave them a relatively secure position in a growing capitalist economy, while the traders and free workers who made the crossing without indenture arguably benefited even more. The self-selection of the migrants helped ensure that they had the capital–the human capital of skills, the social capital of access to vibrant family and communal networks, even economic capital–necessary to participate in a vibrant capitalist economy and not be run over. It helped that, in many ways, Indians were included in a British imperial community in a way that Africans were not.

              Apartheid certainly did hurt South African Indians, depriving them of access to the jobs and education and political power that whites took for granted, but they had more resources to start off with than their black counterparts, and were more resilient. If the apartheid government had–say–decided to deport all the Indians from their homes and communities and drop them into the middle of the Drakensbergs, I suspect they’d have done badly.

              (Not to run on too much, but while South Africa’s Coloureds lacked much of the capital that Indians enjoyed, they did benefit hugely from the fact that they were overwhelmingly concentrated in the Cape Province, where apartheid not only was practiced in less attenuated form than elsewhere in the country (they kept the vote to a relatively late point). The question of whether or not the language and culture that they shared with the Afrikaners helped apartheid theorists think of Coloureds as useful, if subordinate, allies is something worth consideration.)

              “How come a history of evil British colonialism worked out so well for Hong Kong and Singapour?”

              There was never a unitary British colonialism. If canadian provinces so broadly similar as–say–Ontario, Québec, and Alberta can be so different despite their shared British imperial and Canadian national history, there’s no reason to expect that a vast global empire including territories and populations acquried at different times in different ways in run according to often idiosyncratic local traditions would evolve homogeneously.

            • [France vs Italy]

              “They’re close. So close that I’d hesitate to guess which one’s more decadent. I don’t think northern Italy ever lagged behind France on any trend, positive or negative.”

              There are still lags, as in GDP per capita. Italy never quite managed to catch up to France in that domain, although Eurostat disaggregations suggest that the bulk of northern Italy regions do have higher GDP per capita than the bulk of French regions. Italian economic convergence came late.

              “As for the TFRs: France has more Muslims than does Italy. Muslims aren’t nihilistic.”

              I would imagine that religious believers as a rule would be less nihilistic, as you have defined nihilism. French Muslims generally are not that religious, religious observance being about about as much as among American Christians (or practising French Roman Catholics) with all of the ambiguities and hypocrisies that means.

              “Do you have any figures comparing the TFRs of ethnic French in France and ethnic Italians in Italy?”

              The standard accepted figures go into sufficient detail.

              Over the 1991-1998 period, the reports are that women in metropolitan France evidenced a fertility rate of 1.74 over 1991-1998, with women born in metropolitan France 1.7 ranking at, women born in the overseas departments 1.86, and immigrants 2.16. Breaking things down by national origin, Algerians, befitting the relatively small French-Algerian cultural distance, are 0.8 children ahead of the metropolitan French average, while Tunisia and Morocco 1.2 ahead, and Turkey 1.4 ahead. The latest statistics suggest that the overall contribution of immigrant parents to the overall fertility rate is low, accounting for 0.1 of the 2005 TFR of 1.9. The recent increase in the TFR is owing primarily to growing completed fertility among the born-in-France population, with birth among new immigrant groups from high-fertility countries coming a fairly distant second.

              Interestingly, immigrant women born in Italy, Spain, and Portugal are recorded as having substantially higher period fertility than their conationals who stayed in their country of origin: 1.60 vs 1.24; 1.52 vs 1.23; 1.96 vs 1.49. Why (say) ethnic Italians have higher TFRs in Fracne than in Italy is beyond me.

            • [South Africa as a late developer]

              “Yes, but some groups of people have created their own educational systems from scratch. They didn’t need to wait for others to include them in other people’s educational systems. Obviously, Europeans are one example. Middle Easterners, East Indians, East Asians all created their own literate traditions of varying complexity. South African blacks did not. When Japan was first discovered by the Portuguese and the Dutch in the 17th century its literacy rate was above that of Europe.”

              If I were to guess? South Africa’s critical economic problem has been its isolation and relative hospitability.

              For millennia, Japan’s hospitable climate has allowed it to support–via hunter-gathering in the Jomon period or riziculture later–a dense population in the millions, for centuries. As early as the Heian period more than a millennium ago, maybe five million people lived there. For at least a millennium before that, Japan had enjoyed intimate trade and cultural contact with mainland East Asia, and through mainland East Asia the wider world, that is to say the belt of ancient civilizations stretching from the Mediterranean to the Yellow Sea that has lasted for millennia. (One of Wikipedia’s neatest article is the one describing how Greek artistic norms ended up influencing Japanese Buddhist statuary.) Leaving just across the east China Sea from the world’s oldest and traditionally most advanced civilization, Japan was out of touch with the wider world only when its leadership wanted the country to be isolated. Even in isolation, Japan was still a dynamic society, as the Shogunate’s noble domestic scientific community demonstrated, to say nothing of its sophisticated poopular culture industry and complex economic system. Japan’s main problem, when the Shogunate ended, was that it was a poor country, though that thankfully was easily resolved.

              South Africa has been much more isolated. Before the Bantu migrations of the first millennium CE, South Africa–most of the southern half of the continent–was barely and patchily inhabited by hunter-gatherers. The closest that sub-Saharan Africa came to being included in the Old World’s dense networks of exchanges came via the Indian Ocean trade networks that tapered off down by the Tanzanian coast. Unlike the significantly more populous and developed societies of West Africa or the East African littoral, southern Africa as a whole remained quite isolated well into the historical era. The Dutch set up the Cape Colony in the 17th century, but the Cape Colony was oriented towards supporting maritime trade rather than establishing links with the various black ethnic groups in the interior, who for their part could not afford to upgrade their mediocre technology base. (The Dutch did not include South Africa as a source of slaves; rather, it was a destination for said.) Thinly populated–the entire country was home to barely in excess of one million as late as the 1860s, versus thirty-odd million in Japan–with its population centre scattered over a vast landmass lacking easy transport or communications, there was no way that South Africa by itself–whites, blacks, and others all bundled together–could develop by itself nearly to the extent that Japan had. Outside of the relatively well-settled Cape Colony, and certain areas of Natal, South Africa remained terrifically backwards to a late date. (Afrikaners acquired the levels of education and whatnot enjoyed by Anglo-South Africans only at a late date; the Voortrekker republics were not known for their sophistication.) It was only with extensive investment that South Africa became as modern as it is now; if domestic investment priorities had been more rational, it would be more modern still.

              Do these explanations exclude the possibility of genetic inheritances? Actually, no. If certain genetic traits with influences on the construction of complex civilizations do exist at different frequencies at different populations, then they would play a significant role alonside the other factors influencing the development of societies.

              In relation to South Africa, what you seem to be doing is assigning almost all the responsibility for almost all of the differences in life outcomes between South Africa’s different population groups to genetics. That is profoundly ahistorical, when more than enough evidence exists demonstrating that a huge reason why the different non-white populations lag behind their white counterparts is that the white-run state demanded that they continue to lag behind. Oppression and mismanagement explains things nicely.

              Arguing otherwise … Well, one might as well say that East Germany’s economic mess, Argentina’s sharp decline relative to Canada, and the drop of Australian GDP per capita over 1850-1950 to levels significantly below the American average, demonstrates the genetic inferiority of Saxons, southern European immigrants, and Anglo-Celtic Australians to their betters. For that matter, onje might as well say that the historically very late diffusion of literacy from the Mediterranean basin to the Germanic populations of northern Europe is a product of Germanics’ relative incapacity.

              • Randy, I typed up a reply to your most recent comments, but since the nested comments here got so narrow, I just posted it at the bottom of the comment block.

    • iskatel says:

      Mexican-american and mexican TFR are both about 2.3 :
      https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html
      http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol12/4/12-4.pdf
      http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/nation/stories/081908dnnatbirthrate.39dcfdf.html

      In fact, the main reason for the mexican tfr decline is due to goverment policies intended to reduced the fast population growth, and it succeeded, in about 30 years mexican tfr reduced from about 7 to only 2.31
      Guatemala, has a tfr of 3.36 with an economy less developed that the mexican one.
      So religiosity impact in tfr in mexican or of mexican origin population is not that strong as you state. The porcentage of catholics in latinamerican countries are almost similar, but Guatemala and Mexico tfr are different, both are catholic countries, both are hispanics and neighbor, so the main reason is due to goverment policy, read about CONAPO, the governmental instance created in order to achieve this goal.

  2. BTW, Anatoly, the link to “conflict demography” above is broken.

  3. georgesdelatour says:

    Anatoly

    Mark Steyn is certainly wrong if he’s predicting Muslims becoming absolute majorities in European countries any time soon. But there are many alternatives scenarios, most of which aren’t “everything’s fine, nothing to see here”. Austria is almost certain to become 20% Muslim. And that’s bound to affect the character of Austrian society profoundly. Individual cities in Europe will become Muslim majority cities, or at least cities where Muslims are the largest single grouping. That’s going to change those cities beyond recognition.

    Have you read the book by Eric Kaufmann, “Shall The Religious Inherit The Earth”? This is his site:

    http://www.sneps.net/

    Kafmann cannot be dismissed as some kind of shock jock right winger like Steyn. He’s a serious academic. Randy, I assume, with your specialist knowledge, you’ve come across Kaufmann. I’d love to know what you make of his analysis.

    Kaufmann points out that, among the Muslims already in Europe, it’s the hardline Salafists who have the most children. The more fully a European Muslim rejects European society, the more kids he’s going to have. The evidence for that is pretty strong. Easygoing Muslims tend to have the same number of kids as their white post-Christian fellow citizens.

    Kaufmann shows that the growth of the “religious right” in the USA is almost entirely due to their higher birth rates, rather than converting others to their viewpoint. It’s the same with the Mormons, the Haredim in Israel, and numerous other groups.

    If Europe in 2050 is going to have a large unassimilated minority who wish to live separate from the European culture, perhaps with their own parallel legal system, that’s not looking good, even if it’s not the Mark Steyn scenario.

    • Hi, Georges!

      “If Europe in 2050 is going to have a large unassimilated minority who wish to live separate from the European culture, perhaps with their own parallel legal system, that’s not looking good, even if it’s not the Mark Steyn scenario.”

      I’ve heard of Kaufman’s work, yes. As you point out, this is a rather different sort of scenario from Mark Steyn’s boringly undetailed and unresearched one.

      Kaufman’s thesis does rest on the assumption that these conservative religious ideologues will be able to transmit their particular mindset well to enough of the next generation to make a difference. I’m not sure if that will necessarily hold true, or can be counted on to remain true.

    • Seems a variation on the The Return of Patriarchy argument. I don’t there is a strong hereditary element to liberalism or conservatism; these things are far better explained by sociology and conceiving of human society as a neural net.

      Furthermore – albeit anecdotally – there is also a strong evidence of sons rejecting the mores of their father. I know plenty of hardcore liberals with very conservative parents (e.g. many Indian immigrants!), and plenty of born-again conservatives rebelling against their parents’ liberalism.

  4. georgesdelatour says:

    This is Kenan Malik’s anti-fatalist argument against Kaufmann. And it’s a good one.

    Appropriate government policies might make a difference. Based, I admit, on no research at all, I think the French approach stands the best chance of weakening the hold of hardcore separatist Islam on the minds of the young. Enforce strict secularism in schools, a common dress code, and the mingling of the children of Muslims with the children of the rest.

    I saw the French demographer Emmanuel Todd interviewed on TV, saying integration happens mainly in the bedroom. There’s a lot to that argument.

    That’s why chain migration of Mirpuris and Sylhetis in the UK is problematic. If most 16-year-olds are sent back to the old country to marry a first cousin, that resets the integration effect back to zero with each generation. So a more restrictive Danish-type approach might be necessary, however regrettable.

    Peter Taylor’s recent BBC documentary, “Generation Jihad”, paints a sympathetic picture of the problems the Muslim communities of Bradford and other northern English cities have faced. You can find it on Youtube. But, watching it, one thing really struck me. He showed film of the first generation immigrants to Bradford in Manningham from the 1970s. They looked much more western than their equivalents today. The men were mostly clean shaven, wearing western suits and ties – in other words, they dressed exactly like white British men dressed at the time. The women were wearing saris, but these were no different from those worn by Hindu and Sikh women. Cut to the same streets today. The men were bearded, wearing kurtas and taqiyahs, and the women were veiled, many wearing burqas. It seemed that, at least in Bradford, what was happening was reverse integration.

    • This is not entirely surprising. We have several trends at work:
      1) Islamist identity is getting stronger, while “British”/European and secular identity weakens.
      2) Immigrants’ children do not adore Western culture as did their parents. Their attitude leans closer to what I would the ressentiment of rootless cosmopolitans torn from their native culture and unwilling to integrate with their host culture (and why should they?).

      • georgesdelatour says:

        Anatoly

        I agree.

        I think the problem of assimilating large numbers of non-European Muslims to European norms, rather than having European norms shift towards Muslim norms, is tied up with one of your favourite themes – the relative decline of the West, and the rise of the rest.

        A hundred years ago the Western way was ubiquitously successful, and the non-Western way equally ubiquitously unsuccessful. The only non-white country to join the Great Powers was Japan, and it had succeeded only by rapidly becoming Western. So when, for instance, Ataturk set about the rapid Westernisation of Turkey his job was made easier by one simple fact: from the perspective of his time anyone arguing against Westernisation seemed to be clinically insane.

        By the same token it’s no surprise that when Mao sought to free China from European domination he turned not to Taoism or Confucianism but to Western Dialectical Materialism. The German guy with the beard buried in Highgate Cemetery seemed to him infinitely more relevant than the great emperors of the Tang Dynasty. Of the Third World liberators only Gandhi had a philosophy deeply rooted in local cultural concepts. But he was balanced out by Congress leader Nehru, who was a western-style Fabian socialist and atheist, rather than a nativist in love with Satyagraha and spinning wheels. Jinnah planned to emulate Ataturk, though he didn’t live to carry things through.

        When East European Jews started to arrive in London in the 1890s Britain was the most powerful country on the planet. Anyone in the Jewish community arguing for separatism and continuing with the ways of the Shtetl must have seemed mentally ill. Similarly the immigrants to the USA in the late 19th and early 20th century could sense they were arriving in a country on the brink of world domination. No one would have dreamt of arguing that the USA should adopt the cultural mores of the Irish bog or the Pale of Settlement. The USA was clearly headed for greatness and expansion according to its own cultural imperatives. The immigrants had no option but to join the American way wholeheartedly.

        But recent immigration to Europe is happening under exactly opposite circumstances. The only attraction Europe holds for immigrants is its current (but declining) relative affluence and its generous welfare provision. In all other ways, Europe is visibly in political, demographic and cultural decline. The European way no longer feels like the only possible way, as it did 100 years ago. The Muslim way, which appeared utterly outmoded and defunct to Ataturk, now has renewed cultural energy. To paraphrase Yeats, the West lacks all conviction, while the Rest is filled with passionate intensity.

  5. Thank you for your article and the discussion it has provoked. I ‘ll limit my remarks to two comments and a question. One,you’re right on the imprecision of African demographics…sometimes actually just guesswork. Please note for future reference that the US no longer plans to expand or even maintain its once ambitious promise to stem AIDS in Africa. Africa is so often dependent on outside aid,food medicine,etc. it would only take a modest disruption to see death rates soar and that’s a growing probability in my prognosis. Secondly, American neo-cons are so reflexively anti-European and anti-Russian they fail to see the grim 2050 in store for the USA because of the opposite problem– too much population growth– substantially due to a failure to even try and regulate immigration. As the oil pours into our Gulf and cries for change mount, energy demands still will not be met by any proposed reform because America is going to add tens of millions of additional cars and trucks to its roads every decade as far as the eye can see. (see Robert Samuelson,W.Post,6/21). Given a stable population, we might “wean away our dependency from fossil fuels ” as the saying goes but the contrary notions of another one hundred or one hundred fifty million new Americans in thirty, forty years and a lessening of dependence on fossil fuels would require technologies not yet foreseeable. China and Russia’s aggressive and realistic capture and acquisition of resources and stabilizing populations seem possibly a strength to me. Finally a question for anyone: is Bosnia refusing to conduct a census and if so,why?

  6. “Opting for monocausal explaantions for pretty complex phenomena is certainly reductionist.”

    I suspect that genetics is the biggest influence on the well-being of nations, but obviously it’s not the only influence. For a good chunk of the 20th century, for example, China’s standard of living was being depressed by foreign and civil war and then by Mao’s lunacy. The 1914-1945 period in Russia was also anomalous in its badness. Both countries have since bounced back from these epic crises to levels commensurate with their long-term performance and, I would say, with their peoples’ talents.

    One reason you hear so much about IQ is that it’s harder to put numbers on things like work ethic, conscientiousness and trustworthiness than it is to give people IQ tests. I suspect that all of the above-mentioned traits have genetic as well as cultural components.

    Lynn and Vanhanen famously came up with a strong positive correlation between countries’ mean IQs and GDPs.

    ” It helped that, in many ways, Indians were included in a British imperial community in a way that Africans were not. ”

    I’d say that everyone who was willing and able to play a lucrative role in that community got to play one. In my view this, like so many other things, goes back to ability.

    One of the many reasons for discarding the hypothesis that these hierarchies of success (brahmins over lower-caste Indians, Indians in general over blacks, Chinese over blacks, etc.) were created by British colonialism is that these hierarchies existed long before the British Empire was born and have persisted after its death. These hierarchies are thousands of years old. Chronologically the British Empire was a tiny blip in the long history of their existence.

    It’s important to distinguish prejudice from postjudice. I wish I had coined that last word, but sadly someone had beat me to it. When you’ve formed an opinion about a person or a group of people based on your interactions with them or on a representative sample of their behaviors, that’s not prejudice, that’s postjudice. Refusing to take those into account when making decisions is madness.

    “The question of whether or not the language and culture that they shared with the Afrikaners helped apartheid theorists think of Coloureds as useful, if subordinate, allies is something worth consideration.)”

    Ah, but attributing their intermediate place in the local hierarchy of success to their mixed genetic heritage is not worthy of consideration? You’ve certainly failed to mention it.

    “Why (say) ethnic Italians have higher TFRs in Fracne than in Italy is beyond me.”

    Perhaps this is because they’ve disproportionately come from low socio-economic backgrounds in Italy? That’s just a guess.

    “Japan had enjoyed intimate trade and cultural contact with mainland East Asia…”

    Explaining their success partly in terms of their close relationship with their successful continental cousins works for the nature side of the argument at least as much as it does for the nurture side.

    “…that is to say the belt of ancient civilizations stretching from the Mediterranean to the Yellow Sea that has lasted for millennia.”

    Millenia. The longer these hierarchies of success persist, the harder it becomes to assign their causes to nurture rather than nature.

    “Leaving just across the east China Sea from the world’s oldest and traditionally most advanced civilization…”

    I would say best-run rather than most advanced. The Greeks and post-Renaissance Westerners came up with more brilliant ideas, but the Chinese, on average, had more peace, law and order, prosperity and continuity than anybody else. Which is very impressive, of course.

    “South Africa has been much more isolated.”

    Trade and cultural exchange are only ever great if somebody has first created something valuable to exchange. Exchange by itself produces nothing. On the personal level, the most talkative people of all often have the least of all to say. Yes, I know that that sounds funny in the middle of such a long comment, I get it, I get it. Anyway, the Maya Indians created a culture that was more complex than anything that originated in sub-Saharan Africa while being completely cut off from most of humanity and from every single one of the world’s other literate cultures. So it can be done. It’s thought that ancient Mesopotamians and northern Chinese created the rudiments of civilization separately from each other and from scratch, while being unaware of each other’s existence.

    I mean, you have a point – being plugged in helps – but it wasn’t absolutely essential. Oh, and the Egyptians dealt with Nubia since the earliest times. And the Nubians must have dealt with their southern neighbors and so on. How come that didn’t produce torrents of cultural exchange across the continent? The Sahara is least relevant at that exact place.

    “but the Cape Colony was oriented towards supporting maritime trade rather than establishing links with the various black ethnic groups in the interior…”

    If those ethnic groups in the interior produced anything valuable to trade, the Dutch would have been all over them.

    “…lacking easy transport or communications…”

    That’s because they hadn’t built any. You constantly represent consequences of inaction as if they were its causes.

    “If certain genetic traits with influences on the construction of complex civilizations do exist at different frequencies at different populations…”

    How can they not? If populations don’t interbreed with each other for thousands of generations, how can any significant part of their genetic makeup be the same? And in the case of Neanderthals there were tens of thousands of generations of separate development.

    “Oppression and mismanagement explains things nicely.”

    Black-led mismanagement and crime explain clearly why the most productive elements of the South African population, the ones that for a while made S. Africa feel different from Congo, are now leaving the country.

    “Arguing otherwise … ”

    In that paragraph you listed a bunch of cases where the differences in achievement are trivial in comparison with what we’ve been discussing. I know a bit about the German case – there was a brain drain from east to west in the 1950s, before the border was locked down. Plus communism isn’t good for one’s GDP.

    • “Lynn and Vanhanen famously came up with a strong positive correlation between countries’ mean IQs and GDPs.”

      The reviews of Lynn nand Vanhanen’s work that I have come across are pretty critical of their methodology. if it is true that their arguments are based upon very small samples, examined at widely varying times and places and who-knows-what methodologies, and with flaws in interpretation and a lack of attention paid to followup tests, then I cannot say that the work is rather useful. Certainly the fact that they tried to construct national IQs scores based on averaging scores of other (presumably related) nations is, um. Having Armenia’s IQ be the average of Russia and Turkey, or just doing generic mixing and matching …

      Leaving that aside, it is worth noting that even though Lynn and Vanhanen say that IQ plays a substantial role in determining economic differences between countries, it is far from being the only factor. They also argue that even if the differences in IQ are innate, there are plenty of remedial effots–early intervention programs, substantially–that can be put into place to boost IQs. Turning again to the question of South Africa and its policies, they certainly would view apartheid as a foolish policy with the effect–as well as the intent–of vastly expanding the differences between the country’s different populations. My guess, but a well-founded one. See their page 197 in particular.)

      ”I’d say that everyone who was willing and able to play a lucrative role in that community got to play one.”

      Actually, no. Most blatantly under apartheid, but also under British colonial rule, South Africa was pretty far from being a race-free meritocracy. Even in the relatively liberal Cape Colony under British rule, official policies were http://knowledge4africa.com/worldhistory/south-africa/proto-apartheid-01.jsp“>fierce, complete with the restrictive pass laws governing the movement of the colony’s African population.

      As for South Africa under apartheid, I am curious to know how that country could count as a meritocracy when the state denied the large majority of its population access to the instutitions that let South Africa’s white population be the productive First World-style population that it was (rule of law and responsive government, education, et cetera). The country’s laws didn’t distinguish between its citizens on the basis of intelligence or skills, after all–IQ is only an average, half the population scoring below, but half scoring above–but made indiscriminate bans on non-whites entering certain areas (job fields, say, or areas of education, or territories) strictly reserved for whites.

      “Ah, but attributing the Coloureds’] intermediate place in the local hierarchy of success to their mixed genetic heritage is not worthy of consideration? You’ve certainly failed to mention it.”

      It may well be one factor–if you have been following GNXP’s Razib, you have noticed his posts (1, 2) exploring how Cape Coloureds are exceptionally multiracial, with South Asian and Southeast Asian components at least as important as the European–but does the historical and institutional distribution of South Africa’s populations and its laws mean nothing?

      “Why (say) ethnic Italians have higher TFRs in Fracne than in Italy is beyond me.”

      Perhaps this is because they’ve disproportionately come from low socio-economic backgrounds in Italy? That’s just a guess.

      Paying attention to fine detail is important in issues like this.

      “The longer these hierarchies of success persist, the harder it becomes to assign their causes to nurture rather than nature.”

      Sure. The general stability of the world climate over that time period helped keep the grand ecumene of Old World civilization habitable for millennia; lucky them (and us). Those sorts of physical environmental factors, coupled with the technology available to people at the time and the transmissibility of the (material and non-material factors), go a lot to explain long-standing differences in development like those found between Mediterranean and northern Europe over the first millennia BCE and CE, or between east-central Europe and west-central Europe for the past few centuries. If northern Europeans didn’t have (say) access to the moldboard plough that let them till their soil and compensate for the chillier climate, then you would not have seen the massive post-Roman northwards diffusion of wealth and population within Europe. And from the material comes the support from the non-material, this feeding back in a great dialogical network …

      If we wanted, I suppose that we could blame northern and eastern Europe’s relatively lower development on the inherently low and limited IQs of the Celts, Germans, and Slavs compared to the Latins and Greeks, these differences lasting well into the present as demonstrated by the considerably lower GDP per capita of Slavic Slovenia and Czech Republic compared to German Austria within a relatively homogeneous Cisleithenia. Independent of other factors.

      Does that work for you?

      “Trade and cultural exchange are only ever great if somebody has first created something valuable to exchange.”

      Exactly. What did South Africa have of note to contribute to the world economy until the opening up of the mines of the country’s interior in the last quarter of the 19th century? Leaving aside subsistence agriculture and grazing, the Cape Colony was only of note supporting Dutch and British trade routes and military forces in the Indian Ocean area.

      “Anyway, the Maya Indians created a culture that was more complex than anything that originated in sub-Saharan Africa while being completely cut off from most of humanity and from every single one of the world’s other literate cultures. So it can be done.”

      Mesoamerica was rather more hospitable and developed than South Africa, however, with a peak pre-Columbian population in the 10-20 million range and a history of sedentary agricultural civilization going back to the 1st millennium CE. This IAISA study suggests that the Yucatán itself, a Mesoamerica outlier, with a land area of 140 thousand square kilometres, may have had a population circa 300 BCE of 200 thousand, maybe two million by the peak of Mayan civilization, falling back to the low hundreds of thousands by the time Columbus came. That population base is a lot more than anything pre-1500 South Africa had available.

      “It’s thought that ancient Mesopotamians and northern Chinese created the rudiments of civilization separately from each other and from scratch, while being unaware of each other’s existence.”

      It is thought by some, yes, but a lot of evidence suggests that China’s independent development is overrated. The relatively late advent of writing in China–1200 BCE versus 3200BCE in Sumeria–supports the idea of the diffusion of literacy eastwards from Mesopotamia, while the discovery of suspiciously Sinic-looking seals in Central Asia dating to the late 2nd millennium BCE (1, 2) further supports the idea of diffusionism.

      “I mean, you have a point – being plugged in helps – but it wasn’t absolutely essential. Oh, and the Egyptians dealt with Nubia since the earliest times. And the Nubians must have dealt with their southern neighbors and so on. How come that didn’t produce torrents of cultural exchange across the continent? The Sahara is least relevant at that exact place.”

      As a barrier, yes. The climate and geography of the region explain why Nubia and Ethiopia were the only regions of sub-Saharan Africa with long histories of interaction with classical Mediterranean civilization.

      “If those ethnic groups in the [Ŝouth African] interior produced anything valuable to trade, the Dutch would have been all over them.

      That is not the case. The Cape Colony was founded by the Dutch East India Company to support its commercial ventures in the Indian Ocean basin and the East Indies, as a place where Dutch ships could restock. The company was signalling uninterested in developing the colony as a colony of settlement along lines anything like Thirteen Colonies, Spanish America, or even New France, restricting growth. (The place really was a backwater.) Focused on the much greater and more immediate gains further east, why would the colony expand further when all it could acquire were goods that it already produced within Colony’s boundaries?

      “Black-led mismanagement and crime explain clearly why the most productive elements of the South African population, the ones that for a while made S. Africa feel different from Congo, are now leaving the country.”

      The whole array of laws enforced generation prohibiting the participation of non-whites on terms anything like equal to whites throughout the country had no effect?

      • “Certainly the fact that they tried to construct national IQs scores based on averaging scores of other (presumably related) nations is, um. ”

        Yes, that was stupid. They shouldn’t have done it. Lynn dropped that strategy in his later books.

        “Turning again to the question of South Africa and its policies, they certainly would view apartheid as a foolish policy with the effect–as well as the intent–of vastly expanding the differences between the country’s different populations.”

        Vastly expanding? But South Africa’s blacks aren’t doing worse economically or on IQ tests than the populations of African countries that did not experience apartheid. We even have the example of a country (Ethiopia) that hardly experienced any colonialism at all. So no, I don’t think there’s evidence that apartheid expanded those differences. The foolish policies were the naive ones that eventually led to the current mess of unbelievable crime and corruption in South Africa. And you fully partake in such naiveté. So many words from you about apartheid and so few about the predictably insane numbers of white murder and rape victims, about a whole people’s dislocation.

        I never denied that early childhood nutrition can affect IQ. I think iodine deficiency is one of the conditions that’s been shown to lower it. Of course there was a lot of famine in central and eastern Europe during and after WWII, and yet the generation that lived through all of that as kids hasn’t been known for third-worldish behavior. So there’s a limit to how much nutrition explains.

        Take height as an example. The average height of most populations has increased over the last century because of better nutrition. This probably has a parallel in the Flynn effect. And yet I bet that comfortably-wealthy Japan still produces fewer 7 footers per million than does starving southern Sudan. Again, there appears to be a limit to how much you can do with nutrition. In America the underclass is actually quite obese.

        As for charity – no one should be stopping anyone from being charitable, but one should also take pause before forcing anyone into it. And the only just reward for ingratitude is a big zero.

        “As for South Africa under apartheid, I am curious to know how that country could count as a meritocracy when the state denied the large majority of its population access to the institutions that let South Africa’s white population be the productive First World-style population that it was (rule of law and responsive government, education, et cetera).”

        No one was stopping blacks from creating their own institutions. What, you think that if blacks set up good schools of their own, somebody would have come over to shut them down? That would have been implausible, out of character and the rest of it. I mean, this is not ancient history we’re talking about – we can still be sure of what was and wasn’t plausible at that time and place.

        What you’re really arguing for is a requirement for whites to create these institutions FOR blacks. And they did, but you’re not satisfied with that, you wanted them to do even more of that. “How dare you not to work for those folks over there as much as you do for yourself?” Anyway, that whole attitude of yours sounds boorish to me. You think you’re being moral, but I don’t.

        And then there is the question of how much good education can do. We all have our limits. I think it’s safe to say that if I cheated my way into MIT’s math program and then did nothing but study day and night for a whole semester, I would flunk out at the end of that semester anyway.

        Some folks’ limits are MIT-high, other folks’ limits are situated just above literacy and there are always a few folks out there whose limits are below literacy. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

        There’s a moral-masturbatory element to some of this. A certain portion of charitable activity doesn’t accomplish anything at all, but is done anyway because it pleases the doer (“God, how moral I am”).

        Anyway, I may type up something in response to the rest of that comment tomorrow.

        • Glossy:

          “Vastly expanding? But South Africa’s blacks aren’t doing worse economically or on IQ tests than the populations of African countries that did not experience apartheid. We even have the example of a country (Ethiopia) that hardly experienced any colonialism at all.”

          Even though South Africa and Ethiopia had vastly different histories, it all comes down to race?

          “So no, I don’t think there’s evidence that apartheid expanded those differences.”

          South Africa was a meritocratic society, then?

          “What you’re really arguing for is a requirement for whites to create these institutions FOR blacks.”

          For their fellow South African citizens, yes, following the manner of South Africa’s other, Western, partner states which also involved themselves heavily in the lives of their citizens in order to give them the resources and environments they needed to live happy lives.

          • “For their fellow South African citizens, yes, following the manner of South Africa’s other, Western, partner states which also involved themselves heavily in the lives of their citizens in order to give them the resources and environments they needed to live happy lives.”

            There are so many problems with that statement, I don’t even know where to begin. “Following the example of Western states”, meaning that you admit that African and Eastern states do not subscribe to such utopian fairy tales? The implication is clear, and yet I’d bet that when pressed on it you’d deny that you made it. You’re certainly not criticizing the current black-run government of South Africa for being ethnocentric, incompetent and corrupt.

            “…in order to give them the resources they need…”

            And it’s always give, give, give with you. In order for folks like you to be able to pontificate on who should give what to whom, someone first needs to create something worth giving. All of your policy prescriptions hurt those who can create. And don’t you understand that pontificating on who should give what to whom is rude and presumptious? Who are you to tell anyone that? What have you created and what portion of it have you given away and to whom?

            And what exactly made South Africa a Western state? It is a mixed state, but most of those who live in it are African. Why did you apply European instead of African standards to it when suggesting what that state should provide?

            In an earlier comment you criticized the apartheid system for sometimes regulating who could go where. As everyone knows, or at least should know, the white and black communities in South Africa hold very, very different views on the morality of rape and on the sanctity of human life. I once read about a study that showed that 20% of S. African men self-reported having raped women within the past year. Self-reported! So the real numbers are probably higher. In your warped view the whites’ desire to protect their wives and daughters from rape constitutes evidence of their evil nature. Life is full of trade-offs. I guess to you a few thousand rapes a year are outweighed by the evil of telling some folks that they can’t go into certain places. And it doesn’t matter if you haven’t thought that through or that you stubbornly deny the obvious facts on the ground and their implications for your utopian theories. The result is the same. You end up insisting that telling some people a few things is more immoral than mass rape.

            • “In your warped view the whites’ desire to protect their wives and daughters from rape constitutes evidence of their evil nature. ”

              I’m sorry, what?

              • Randy, that’s not the first time that you’ve asked for something obvious to be explained to you. I’m sorry, but we’ll have to end it here. We’re not going to convince each other of anything, I’m tired of explaining reality to you and reading back boring regurgitations of official PC views from you. And when the official view changes, as it always does, you’ll probably change with it without even noticing that you have. No thought involved. I have better things to do than argue with you, my friend.

              • I’m just taken aback basic assumption that rape is part of a campaign, specifically directed against whites, as opposed to one element of a generalized breakdown of society that arguably hurts whites disproportionately less: police forces don’t work nearly as well in the slums, still.

    • As for enduring ethnic ascendancies, I’d like to point to the Baltic Germans as a great example. For seven centuries, German crusaders who settled in the future Estonia and Latvia dominated the natives through their superior technology–especially military technology–throughout numerous regime changes (Teutonic Knights, Sweden, Russia). Even though they were always far outnumbered by Latvians and Estonians, the Baltic German aristocrats and nobles ‘ rule was only challenged towards the end of the 19th century, as Romanticism led to the standard national revival narrative that ended in radical land reform and the creation of independent Latvian and Estonian nation-states.

      Despite this very long period, a 2003 study by Lynn et al–yes, that Lynn–suggested that the Estonian IQ was ~99, virtually identical with the European norm, and with the averages provided for Finland, Sweden, and Germany by Lynn et al, notwithstanding that the ethnically based serfdom of Estonia had no parallel in that last two countries in particular.

      FWIW.

      • As I’ve said before, I don’t think that intelligence is the only mental trait that varies among human populations. It’s easier to quantify than others, plus it’s very important, so we talk about it a lot.

        Another mental trait that was a huge, huge topic for historians writing before the PC age was the trait of being warlike. This is relevant to the Baltic Germans because they started out as a warrier class.

        The Germanics entered written history for the first time when two of their tribes – the Teutones and the Cimbri – attacked the Roman Republic in 113 BC. The Romans were so impressed by this event that they coined a memorable phrase – Furor Teutonicus:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furor_Teutonicus

        “Lucan used the term to describe what he believed to be the outstanding characteristic of the Germanic tribe called the Teutones: a mad, merciless, berserk rage in battle.”

        Tacitus was famously fond of this topic too.

        From literally their first appearance in written history until the 20th century everyone who was anyone in the western half of Eurasia was convinced that the Germanics were natural soldiers. The Romans couldn’t conquer them, but they disproportionately hired them as mercenaries. The Byzantine Emperors entrusted their personal security to the Varangian Guard. The rich states of Renaissance Italy could hire the best soldiers money could buy, so they usually went with Swiss Germans. All European aristocracies, not just the Baltic one, were descended from Germanic warlords. You could have picked Spain or France or the Russian Rurikid dynasty for your example if you wanted. The only unusual thing about the Baltic aristocracy was that it retained the German language into modernity. By comparison Frankish kings stopped speaking German a couple of generations after Charlemagne. Why did the Baltic aristocracy retain the German language long after the French, Spanish and Italian aristocracies dropped it? Perhaps this had to do with the higher prestige of Latin/Romance as compared with the Baltic tongues. Latin had all that history behind it. The Rurikids’ switch to Russian could have been eased by the fact that one of its close relatives became the official language of the Russian Orthodox church, and therefore of prestige, literate culture in Russia. This couldn’t happen in the Baltics because the Catholic Church disapproved of non-Latin Bible translations.

        Why were the Germanics always known for soldiery? This is very speculative and probably wrong, but it’s the only hypothesis I’m aware of:

        The Germanics came from what’s now Denmark and the southern Scandinavian coast. That area has a freakishly high ratio of coastline mileage per acre of land. I think only Greece is in that league. Perhaps such an environment tended to encourage piracy early on. Once a culture enters on a war (or piracy) path, Darwinian forces should quickly take over. If you don’t like piracy but your neighbors do, you die. On a heavily-forested continent without roads an easy access to the sea would have provided the only chance for high mobility. For the Huns and the Mongols the open steppe + horses also equaled exceptional mobility. Maybe there is something there. Nobody’s ever become a good soldier while sitting in one place. And a jagged coastline like Scandinavia’s packs a lot more coast-dwellers per square mile than a smooth coastline ever could.

        Anyway, warlike dispositions have been observed in peoples of varying levels of IQ – Mongols, Pushtuns, Chechens, Vikings… Renaissance Tuscans were obviously very smart, but the bulk of their population had no appetite for war at all. Their elites had to hire mercenaries as cannon fodder.

        I don’t think that Baltic history in that regard is very mysterious.

        • Just wanted to put my point into a more succinct form:

          The Germanic warlords who conquered the Western Roman Empire after 400 AD and most of Eastern Europe after 1000 AD might well have had the same mean IQ as the peoples they conquered. However, according to many of the historians who saw them in action, they had something extra that the conquered peoples tended to lack – a warlike disposition. Later aristocracies, including the Baltic one, were simply their descendants.

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