World population myths exposed

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Demographic statistics can be complicated, and they tend to be oversimplified and sensationalized in media coverage. That's Martin Walker's argument. He's a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and UPI Editor Emeritus.

In an article out this month in a journal called the "Wilson Quarterly," Walker takes a closer look at some demographic statistics and overturned some accepted truths about how populations around the world are changing. He joins "The Takeaway" with an explanation of his findings.

Walker: "One of the greatest myths is ... that the Europeans have stopped breeding, and that they are going to be increasingly dominated by a large immigrant population from North Africa and the Middle East."

He thinks this kind of information feeds into anti-immigration politics, and that specifically for the Islamic population, "... if you actually look at the numbers, it's really not happening. The most dramatic finding that's coming out of the most recent studies that we're seeing through the world population reports for the United Nations is that Islamic birth rates around the world -- in Europe, and in the Middle East, and in Asia -- have pretty much dropped off a cliff.

And for other immigrant populations: "It's really remarkable ... whether you look at Britain ... whether you look at Germany, you see that immigrant women -- no matter where they come from, whether from Africa, or from the Middle East -- their birthrates drop to the local norm very, very quickly."

As for population trends in China, the one-child policy will result in tens of millions young Chinese males who will have difficulty finding mate; however: "By 2020, there will be a hundred million more Indian teenagers than Chinese teenagers, and it looks at the moment [based] on current trends that, by about 2047, there could be more American babies born than Chinese babies."

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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