A Question of Numbers: High Migration, Low Fertility, and the Politics of National Identity

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9780809077816: A Question of Numbers: High Migration, Low Fertility, and the Politics of National Identity

This groundbreaking book insists on the new, unavoidable truth: large international migrations have permanently altered many countries in the world and transformed their politics. The authors explore the implications of these changes in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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Review:

Much has been written about the dangers of global overpopulation and its potentially catastrophic ramifications on health and the environment. In A Question of Numbers, Michael Teitelbaum and Jay Winter concentrate on the other end of this equation: the fear of population decline. Focusing on the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Yugoslavia, Russia, and Romania between the years 1965 and 1995, the authors look at how a mix of low fertility rates and a steady influx of immigrants have affected each country's national identity. When political upheaval and internal demographic shifts occur in tandem with increased immigration, the transformations can be both explosive and permanent. The results range from the backlash in the U.S. (particularly toward incoming Mexicans) that fueled new state laws denying immigrants health and welfare benefits to the horrific examples of "ethnic cleansing" in the ravaged Balkans. Though each nation examined here is has experienced a unique set of problems and circumstances, enough parallels exist to give the authors' ideas a global relevance.

Though a serious and thoughtful book, A Question of Numbers is not a dry read. The authors rely more heavily on historical and political anecdotes than charts and statistics, and they strive for clear and impartial analysis of a subject often obscured by self-serving politicians and alarmists.

Review:

"The message that pervades this book is that population numbers, though important, are often less significant than the interpretation given to those numbers, especially by ambitious politicians. Demographic conflicts do not result from primordial group tensions but from calculated political decisions and campaigns."--Jack A. Goldstone, The New York Times Book Review

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Michael Teitelbaum, Jay Winter
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