Demography and Religion: Toward a World of True Believers?
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In his study Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century, Eric Kaufmann of the University of London demonstrates that religious believers tend to have significantly higher birth rates than nonbelievers--and that fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims generally have more children than less fervent followers. Kaufmann argues that these trends portend a major shift: a historic reversal of the long global move toward secularization. Since secular and fundamentalist agendas often differ, this impending shift is rife with implications for politics in the coming decades, both in the United States and abroad. Will religion transform the world's demography over the next two generations? If so, how? Join our expert panel as it addresses these and other questions.
2:15 PM

2:30 PM
ERIC KAUFMANN, University of London



4:00 PM
Event Summary

WASHINGTON, MAY 20, 2011--Demographic realities show that religious populations are expanding and possibly reversing the movement toward secularism, Eric Kaufmann said Friday at AEI. According to Kaufmann, author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? (Profile Books, 2010), declining fertility rates among secular populations and steady--if not rising--fertility rates among religious people are gradually causing an upsurge of religiosity both in developed and developing countries. In Britain, for example, ultra-orthodox Jews make up about 17 percent of the British Jewish population but 75 percent of the births. Ultra-orthodox Jewish populations are expanding in Israel as well. Similar phenomena are occurring both in the United States and Western Europe, where fundamentalist Protestantism and other religions are successfully countering membership loss, thus maintaining growth. Richard Cincotta, a political demographer, agreed with Kaufmann's findings and emphasized the need to recognize the cultural drivers of fertility, such as religion, that are influencing the world population and ethos of society.


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Speaker Biographies

Richard Cincotta is the demographer in residence at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC, and a consultant to the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Project. Mr. Cincotta served as the political demographer in the National Intelligence Council's Long-Range Analysis Unit from 2006 to 2009. His current research focuses on the demographic transition and age-structural transition, and he has published on their relationships to the politics of ethno-religious change, to the onset of civil conflict, to regime type and political stability, to natural-resource dynamics, to human health, and to population policies. His publications on these topics appear in Foreign Policy, Current History, Nature, and Science. Mr. Cincotta contributed to the National Intelligence Council's global futuring exercise, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed WorldGlobal Burden of Armed Violence (2009) and to the Geneva Declaration Secretariat's
(2008). Previously, he served in the US Navy in an intelligence field, and has lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, South Asia, North Africa, Europe, Australia, and Canada, including five years abroad in research positions in Morocco, India, and China.

Nicholas Eberstadt is the Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy at AEI. A political economist and demographer by training, Mr. Eberstadt is also a senior adviser to the National Board of Asian Research, a member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Global Leadership Council at the World Economic Forum. He researches and writes extensively on economic development, foreign aid, global health, demographics, and poverty. He has written over a dozen books and monographs, including The Poverty of Communism (Transaction, 1988), The Tyranny of Numbers (AEI Press, 1995), The End of North Korea (AEI Press, 1999), Korea's Future and the Great Powers (University of Washington Press, 2001), The North Korean Economy: Between Crisis and Catastrophe (Transaction, 2007), Europe's Coming Demographic Challenge: Unlocking the Value of Health (AEI Press, 2007), The Poverty of 'The Poverty Rate': Measure and Mismeasure of Want in Modern America (AEI Press, 2008), and Policy and Performance in Divided Korea during the Cold War Era: 1945–91 (AEI Press, 2010). His most recent study is Russia's Peacetime Demographic Crisis (National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010).
Eric Kaufmann is a professor of politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He was a fellow in the Religion in International Affairs Program at the Belfer Center of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, Mr. Kaufmann won the Richard Rose Prize of the Political Studies Association for work by a scholar under forty. He is the author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? (Profile Books, 2010), which has been reviewed in, among others, the Times, the Financial Times, the Independent, the Observer, Metro, and the Sydney Morning Herald. He is also author of The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America (Harvard, 2004) and The Orange Order: A Contemporary Northern Irish History (Oxford 2007), coauthor of Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland Since 1945 (Manchester University Press, 2007, with Henry Patterson), and editor of Rethinking Ethnicity: Majority Groups and Dominant Minorities Political Demography: Identity, Institutions, and Conflict and Wither the Child: Causes and Consequences of Low Fertility, both with Paradigm Press. He is an editor of the journal Nations and Nationalism and has also written on religion and demography for Newsweek International, Foreign Policy, and Prospect.
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