is research director at the National Institute of Demographic Studies in Paris. He is a prolific writer, whose research has mainly focused on the Arab and Muslim populations, the old and new minorities and the political, social and economic correlates of population dynamics. Bef...
Demographic challenges and opportunities ahead in Middle East and North Africa: “Arab Spring” or “Islamic winter”?
Youssef Courbage, 11 May 2012
Since December 2010, the speed, suddenness and scope of events in North Africa and the Middle East have taken everyone by surprise. They nevertheless had to happen. Given the universality of human nature – differences between a European and an Arab are ultimately of minor importance – the processes that began in Europe in the seventeenth
century and spread throughout the world would have inevitably reached the Arab countries.
For the past four decades, depending on their level of advancement, the Arab countries have experienced cultural, ideational, demographic and anthropological transformation similar to what Europe had been through since the English (1640–1660) and French Revolutions (1789).
Fertility in some Arab countries is similar to or lower than in Norway, due to a rising age of marriage and the increasing use of contraception. At the same time, secularism is on the rise in society, if not in politics. There is no reason to believe the Arab world would have been an exception, because Arabs are not inherently averse to human progress.