Religion, Demography and Conflicts in Muslim Countries

Youssef Courbage, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

This paper will present the universal trend of demographic transition in 50 Muslim countries and will highlight the exceptions to this universal rule: conflicts, family structures and varying degrees of globalization. There is a universal story of accession to modernity whose trigger is the eradication of illiteracy. Hence, today, varying levels of literacy explain why some Muslim countries are still lagging in demographic transition. But there are also failed or stalling transitions, superficially attributed to Islam, whereas the real reasons might be elsewhere. 1) Political: Deliberate forms of resistance to demographic transition do exist in some Muslim countries, but has nothing to do with religion; they political with a religious dress. 2) Anthropological: Demographic differences might derive from family systems: the central Arab, Iranian, Indian system are patrilineal, which give advantage to boys. 3) Openness/ Globalization: Differences in pace of fertility transitions might be due to the contrasting effects of globalization of the opening to the outside world. Also international migration, depending on the country of destination, facilitates a more or less rapid demographic modernity. Hence large differences between Maghreb and the Near East.

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Presented in Session 181: Population, Conflict, and Religion