Immigrants to Denmark come largely from the Muslim world, where fertility rates are converging to the European norm. In the future, most immigrants will come from sub-Saharan Africa, where the fertility decline has stalled and has actually reversed in some countries. (source)
My last post dealt with Helmuth Nyborg’s study and the decision by the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty to have it deleted from the scientific literature. Please note: this is not about barring a study from publication. That happens all the time. This is about removing a study that has already been published.
Let me now turn to the study itself. What do I think? Does it make sense?
First, I seldom see a paper I fully agree with. Something usually seems wrong. Often, the authors overstate their case, out of enthusiasm or fear of being ignored. This is normal, and the only way to learn the whole truth is to encourage others to speak up and provide their views.
But, yes, Nyborg’s study does make sense, if only because his population projection holds true regardless of how imperfect his data may be. The result is overdetermined. If a population opens up its territory to immigration while having below-replacement fertility, it will eventually become a minority within its own borders. The actual timeline may be unsure. Things may happen slower or faster than predicted. But the end result is a sure thing.
Of course, immigration might stop. And Danish fertility might return to replacement level. But such an eventuality will not happen unassisted. It will come about through deliberate changes to public policy. And that will happen only through free debate—the very thing that Nyborg’s critics apparently wish to prevent.
So please let me state what I think, at the risk of being likewise erased from the scientific literature.
Nyborg’s model: fertility rates and birth rates
Clearly, Danes are below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman (the figure was 1.73 in 2012). And since their mean age is rising, their birth rate is falling despite a constant fertility rate. Fewer and fewer Danish women are of childbearing age.
Meanwhile, immigrants to Denmark have a rising birth rate because they increasingly come from high-fertility societies in the Muslim world and sub-Saharan Africa. Nyborg thus argues that their natural increase will eventually overtake immigration as the main impetus for Denmark’s population growth: “Whereas 72% of growth in 2010 was due to new immigration, by 2072 more than three quarters of further growth will be driven by the higher fertility of non-Western immigrants” (Nyborg, 2011).
Nyborg’s model assumes that the immigrant birth rate will remain high. Yet this is already less and less true, as shown by a Statistics Denmark study in 2010:
The fertility rate has fallen among immigrants of non-Western background and is now flush with the fertility rate among women of Danish background. […] For many years, immigrants born in non-Western countries had far more children than women of Danish origin. In 1993 immigrants born in non-Western countries had 3.4 children on average, while Danish women gave birth to 1.7 children on average. The fertility rates have since converged, and in 2009 both immigrants from non-Western countries and Danish women gave birth on average to 1.9 children, according to figures from Statistics Denmark. (Nielsen, 2010)
While this convergence may reflect assimilation to Danish cultural norms, we should remember that fertility has sharply declined throughout most of the Muslim world, which is Denmark’s leading source of non-Western immigrants.
Of course, despite this convergence of fertility rates, the birth rate will still be higher among women of non-Western origin because they are younger on average. And, unless the immigration tap is turned off, they will be continually joined by immigrant women who are drawn disproportionately from the childbearing age bracket. Nonetheless, even if immigration continues unabated, this factor will lose importance as the community of non-Western origin grows larger and larger. Over time, the birth rates of both communities should converge, just as their fertility rates have already converged. This point was actually made by Nyborg’s critics. So his model may be too pessimistic.
Or maybe not. Although Nyborg’s model took into account the current shift toward non-Western sources of immigration, it did not allow for the likelihood that non-Western immigrants will increasingly come from sub-Saharan Africa. While fertility rates have fallen sharply throughout most of the Muslim world, there has been little or no decline in most of sub-Saharan Africa (see previous post). In some countries, like Somalia, fertility rates are actually rising. This trend has been noted in the latest UN population projections:
In the new revision, the estimated total fertility rate (TFR) for 2005-2010 has increased in several countries, including by more than 5 per cent in 15 high-fertility countries from sub-Saharan Africa. In some cases, the actual level of fertility appears to have risen in recent years; in other cases, the previous estimate was too low. (United Stations, 2013, p. 2)
[…] Between 2013 and 2100, the populations of 35 countries, most of them LDCs, could triple or more. Among them, the populations of Burundi, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia are projected to increase at least five-fold by 2100. (United Nations, 2013, p. 5)
In any case, Nyborg’s predictions will come true even if the immigrant birth rate converges to the Danish norm. The immigrant community will expand through immigration alone. And the ethnic Danish community will shrink once its deaths begin to outnumber its births. One group will replace the other.
Nyborg’s model and IQ
Human populations differ statistically in mean IQ. We can argue why this is so. Genetics? Poor upbringing? Racism? Whatever the reason, these differences exist. The only real debate is whether they will persist over time or gradually disappear as the immigrant community assimilates and becomes increasingly Danish-born. Some observers see this problem as a generational one. The older immigrants may be too set in their ways, but their children should turn out all right.
Intelligence does seem to be more malleable in children than in adults. If one intervenes early enough, differences in cognitive ability should therefore be erased, and these equal outcomes should persist into adulthood. This was the thinking behind the Head Start Program, which provides American 3 and 4 year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds with early educational training. Unfortunately, even its proponents have concluded that the IQ benefits fade away and are usually gone by Grade 2. Longer-term benefits tend to be non-IQ-related, such as a greater willingness to stay in school and comply with the school regimen. Moreover, all of these improvements tend to be larger and longer-lasting in white children than in black children, even when the white children are initially more disadvantaged (Wikipedia 2013).
Do these different outcomes reflect the different family and community environments of white and black children? This is the currently favored explanation: no matter how poor a white child may be, he or she benefits from a society that allocates fewer resources to black families and black communities. The IQ gap will thus disappear only when white and black children share the same resources.
The most radical solution would be to raise black and white children together in the same households. Yet even that kind of environment fails to eliminate the IQ gap. This was the finding of the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study —a longitudinal study of black, biracial, and white children adopted into white middle-class Minnesotan families, as well as the biological children of the same families (Levin, 1994; Lynn, 1994; Scarr and Weinberg, 1976; Weinberg,Scarr, and Waldman, 1992). IQ was measured when the adopted children were on average 7 years old and the biological children on average 10 years old. They were tested again ten years later:
Test —————— 1st — 2nd
Black children —– 97 — 89 Biracial children – 109 — 99
White children — 112 — 106 (adopted)
White children — 117 — 109 (biological)
Between the two tests, all four groups showed a decline in mean IQ that may or may not have been due to changes in testing and norms. On both tests, however, the differences among the four groups remained unchanged, particularly the 15-point IQ gap between blacks and whites that comes up in one study after another. Whatever it is that causes this gap, it must happen very early in life. In the womb? But how do we explain the poorer showing of the biracial children? They were born overwhelmingly to white mothers.
In sum, early intervention does help, but it helps all children equally. And this benefit seems to fade away in all children as time goes by.
Perhaps there is another explanation. Perhaps, in early humans, learning was just a means of encoding information while a young child is becoming familiar with the world. Once this critical period was over, the brain no longer had to be so malleable and lost its plasticity. This developmental trajectory then began to take place more slowly in some human populations than in others. Why not? Different populations have to cope with different physical and cultural environments, and some of those environments require more lifelong learning than others. This adult retention of mental plasticity may be analogous to adult retention of lactase (the enzyme that infants use to digest milk) in those populations that have domesticated cattle.
Yes, this is just theorizing. Nothing has been proven. But isn’t the burden of proof on those who seek irrevocable change? In any case, whatever the cause, this IQ gap seems almost intractable. If it cannot even be narrowed in the shared environment of a nice Minnesotan household, how are you going to eliminate it in a country where a native European population has so little in common—culturally, linguistically, and ideologically—with an increasingly African immigrant community?
One other thing bothers me. So please let me say it.
Why must the Danes prove that they deserve to keep their country to themselves? Isn’t that a basic right? They have only one land to call home … unlike the many “refugees” who regularly visit their own homelands. Once the Danes lose majority status in their country, they’ll be like the Copts of Egypt and other minorities in this world. They’ll have to live by their wits, trying to balance off one potential enemy against another.
I wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone, let alone on the Danes.
Levin, M. (1994). Comment on the Minnesota transracial adoption study, Intelligence, 19, 13-20.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160289694900493
Lynn, R. (1994). Some reinterpretations of the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, Intelligence, 19, 21-27.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160289694900507
Nielsen, J.B. (2010). Indvandrerkvinder og danske kvinder føder lige mange børn, July 27, Kristeligt Dagblad.http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/374994:Danmark--Indvandrerkvinder-og-danske-kvinder-foeder-lige-mange-boern
Nyborg, H. (2011). The decay of Western civilization: Double relaxed Darwinian Selection. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 118-125.http://emilkirkegaard.dk/da/wp-content/uploads/Helmuth-nyborg-2011-the-decay-of-western-civilization-double-relaxed-darwinian-selection1.pdf
Scarr, S., and Weinberg, R.A. (1976). IQ test performance of Black children adopted by White families, American Psychologist, 31, 726-739.http://www.kjplanet.com/amp-31-10-726.pdf
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.227.http://esa.un.org/wpp/Documentation/pdf/WPP2012_%20KEY%20FINDINGS.pdf
Weinberg, R.A., Scarr, S., and Waldman, I.D. (1992). The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study: A follow-up of IQ test performance at adolescence. Intelligence, 16, 117-135.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/016028969290028P
Wikipedia. (2013). Head Start Programhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_Start_Program