Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Will we be seeing empty madrassas anytime soon?

The New Republic (Nov. 5), quoted in today's "The Informed Reader" (B13, WSJ) had a blurb on Iran that could potentially be interpreted as comforting. Iran's birthrate has plummeted over the last quarter-century or so, from around 6 to about 1.7 (2 children per woman, assuming mutually monogamous relationships, is the standard replacement rate--i.e. number needed to keep the population constant).

Philip Jenkins, professor of religious studies at Penn State, says that this low birthrate is more significant than the fact that the average age of Iran's current population is fairly young--20. Why to rejoice:

"In general, low fertility rates are found in stable, democratic and secular nations. Mr. Jenkins predicts that in a decade or so, Iran's declining birth rate will increase the pressure on the state to introduce democratic changes. That is because with fewer children to support them in their dotage, Iranians are likely to turn to the state to provide for them, making them more vested in how the government operates."

Also, fewer children means fewer potential terrorists. Yeah, that's probably politically incorrect. But just think about it...

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