Demographic threat

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The concept of demographic threat (or demographic bomb) is a term used in political conversation to refer to population increases from within a minority ethnic group in a given country that are perceived as threatening to alter the ethnic identity of that country.


In 1984, Geoffrey Blainey, an Australian historian and academic criticised a comment by a spokesman to Immigration Minister Stewart West of the Australian Labor Party that "the increasing Asianisation was inevitable".

Blainey responded, "I do not accept the view, widely held in the Federal Cabinet, that some kind of slow Asian takeover of Australia is inevitable. I do not believe that we are powerless. I do believe that we can with good will and good sense control our destiny.... As a people, we seem to move from extreme to extreme. In the past 30 years the government of Australia has moved from the extreme of wanting a white Australia to the extreme of saying that we will have an Asian Australia and that the quicker we move towards it the better".[1]

In the 1996 Australian federal election, Pauline Hanson was elected to the Division of Oxley. In her controversial maiden speech to the Australian House of Representatives, she expressed her belief that Australia "was in danger of being swamped by Asians". Hanson went on to form the One Nation Party, which initially won nearly one quarter of the vote in Queensland state elections before it entering a period of decline because of internal disputes.[2] The name "One Nation" was meant to signify national unity in contrast to what Hanson claimed as an increasing division in Australian society caused by government policies favouring migrants (multiculturalism) and indigenous Australians.[3]


Thousands of Bahraini Shia Muslims protested in March 2011 against the Bahraini government's naturalisation policy of granting citizenship to Sunni Muslims from other countries serving in the military of Bahrain.[4]


Bhutan has a long-standing concern with the demographic threat posed by the immigration of ethnically distinct Nepali immigrants.[5][6][7][8]


During the 19th and 20th centuries (until the 1960s), the French-speaking Catholic minority of Canada managed to maintain its share of the population due to a high birth rate, dubbed the "revenge of the cradle."


In Estonia, one of the causes of the Singing Revolution was the concern over the demographic threat to the national identity posed by the influx of individuals from foreign ethnic groups to work on such large Soviet development projects as phosphate mining.[9][10]


Many Hindu Indians see Muslims as a "demographic threat" because of their large population growth due to high fertility rates[11] and because of the high rate of illegal immigration from Bangladesh.[12][13][14]


In the 1950s, Shoham Melamad found that the high fertility rate of Arabs was viewed as a demographic threat to the Jewish nation.[15] Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, however, stated that Arabs in Israel should be treated equally to any other Israeli citizens and be allowed to have children just like any other citizen.[16] A 1967 Maariv editorial suggested that Jews should be encouraged to have large families, while Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and in Israel should be encouraged to adopt birth control measures. Schnitzer also advocated for the adoption of an open policy encouraging Arabs to emigrate from Israel.[17]

In 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu opined that if the percentage of Arab citizens of Israel rises above its current level of about 20 percent, Israel would not be able to retain a Jewish demographic majority, the basis of Israel's self-definition as a "Jewish democratic state". Netanyahu's comments were criticized as racist by Arab Knesset members and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.[18][19] In May 2009, Michael Oren wrote an article in Commentary in which he discussed the "Arab Demographic Threat" as one of "Seven Existential Threats" facing Israel.[20] In 2005, Shimon Peres told US officials that Israel had "lost" land in the Negev "to the Bedouin" and would need to take steps to "relieve" the "demographic threat". In 2010, Netanyahu warned in a government meeting that a Negev "without a Jewish majority" would pose "a palpable threat".[21] In February 2014, then Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid said failure to establish a Palestinian state would leave Israel facing a demographic threat that could undermine its Jewish and democratic nature.[22]


The Malaysian government has been accused of masterminding Project IC to alter the demographic pattern of the East Malaysian state of Sabah.[23]

Northern Ireland[edit]

In Northern Ireland, Protestants are more likely to favour continued political union with the UK, while Catholics are more likely to favour political union with the rest of Ireland. When Ireland was partitioned in the 1920s and Northern Ireland came into existence, Protestants were roughly 60% of the population, but as a result of higher fertility rates among Catholics, their share of the population has dropped to less than 50% in the 2011 census, while Catholics numbered only slightly fewer than Protestants. There is debate over whether and to what extent this trend will continue and its possible impact on the political situation.


Russia fears the "demographic threat" posed by the potential for "large-scale Chinese immigration" to its thinly populated far east.[24] Illegal immigration of Chinese nationals is a special concern.[25] There were also fears of a Muslim-majority Russia eventually coming into fruition (for instance, by Paul A. Goble), though such fears have also been criticized as being unrealistic, irrational, and/or unfounded.[26]


Sweden's main statistics bureau, Statistics Sweden (SCB), does not keep any record of ethnicity,[27] but about 20% of Sweden's population is of foreign background.[28] Some immigrants in Sweden feel that they experience "betweenship" that arises when others ascribe them an identity that they do not hold.[29]

The growing numbers of immigrants has coincided with the rise of and anti-immigration political party, the Sweden Democrats, which believe in a demographic threat, especially by the rise of Islam in Sweden. Since the 1990s, polls show that people in Sweden have gradually become more positive to asylum-seekers.[30] Recently, the Sweden Democrats have become one of the most popular parties in Sweden and have sparked widespread debate about a possible increase of xenophobia and racism in Sweden.[31]

United States[edit]

Some in the United States have expressed concern about the "demographic threat" posed by migrants from Latin America, particularly Mexico, and their descendants.[32] In a similar vein, in 2000, Peter Brimelow of the immigration restrictionist website VDARE expressed concern that the United States Democratic Party--with the support of the United States Republican Party--is importing a new, less white electorate that is more favorable to them.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Source: The Age, 20 March 1984
  2. ^ Goot, Murray (November 2005). "Pauline Hanson's One Nation: extreme right, centre party or extreme left?". Labour History. 89 (89): 101–119. doi:10.2307/27516078. JSTOR 27516078.
  3. ^ Ben-Moshe, Danny (July 2001). "One Nation and the Australian far right". Patterns of Prejudice. 35 (3): 24–40. doi:10.1080/003132201128811205.
  4. ^ "Thousands stage rally in Bahrain". Al Jazeera. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  5. ^ Bhutan: A Movement in Exile By D. N. S. Dhakal, Christopher Strawn, Nirala Publications, 1994, p. 312
  6. ^ Bhutan: Perspectives on Conflict and Dissent, Michael Hutt, Published by Kiscadale, 1994, p. 91
  7. ^ European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, Universität Heidelberg Südasien-Institut, Südasien Institut, 1991, p. 25
  8. ^ In Defence of Democracy: Dynamics and Fault Lines of Nepal's Political Economy, Ram Sharan Mahat, Adroit Publishers, 2005, p. 265
  9. ^ Estonia and the Estonians, Toivo U. Raun, Hoover Press, 2001, p. 223
  10. ^ Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, and Resentment in Twentieth-century Eastern Europe, Roger Dale Petersen, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 156
  11. ^ Women, States, and Nationalism: At Home in the Nation?, By Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, Mary Ann Tétreault, Routledge, 2000, p. 111
  12. ^ Why India is concerned about Bangladesh, Ramananda Sengupta | December 22, 2005 [1] Archived 2011-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Mohajir's Pakistan, M.K. Chitkara. Pub. A.P.H., Delhi, 1996, p. 21
  14. ^ Illegal Migration from Bangladesh, Braja Bihārī Kumāra, Astha Bharati, Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Astha Bharati, 2006, p. 86
  15. ^ Shenhav, 2006, p. 191.
  16. ^ Does A High Arab Birthrate Threaten Israel?
  17. ^ Masalha, 2000, pp. 200-202.
  18. ^ Sedan, Gil (18 December 2003). "Netanyahu: Israel's Arabs are the real demographic threat". Haaretz.
  19. ^ "MKs slam Netanyahu's remarks about Israeli Arabs". 17 December 2003.
  20. ^ "Seven Existential Threats". Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
  21. ^ Ben White (22 October 2012). "Israel: Ethnic cleansing in the Negev". Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  22. ^ AP (17 February 2014). "Lapid warns failure of peace talks poses demographic threat". Retrieved 2014-11-16.
  23. ^ Sadiq, Kamal (2005). "When States Prefer Non-Citizens Over Citizens: Conflict Over Illegal Immigration into Malaysia" (PDF). International Studies Quarterly. 49: 101–122. doi:10.1111/j.0020-8833.2005.00336.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  24. ^ Russia's Far East: a region at risk By Judith Thornton, Charles E. Ziegler, University of Washington Press, 2002, p.22
  25. ^ Security and Migration in Asia: The Dynamics of Securitisation, By Melissa Curley, Siu-lun Wong, Taylor & Francis, 2007, p. 87
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ Jenny Stiernstedt. "Faktakoll: Rött ljus för Reinfeldt". Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  28. ^ "Summary of Population Statistics 1960 - 2012". Statistics Sweden. 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013.
  29. ^ Johan, Nikula (16 August 2017). "Mellanförskap - svenskhet, ursprung och invandrarskap". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Yougov: Nu är SD Sveriges största parti". Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  32. ^ Keeping Out the Other: A Critical Introduction to Immigration Enforcement Today, David Brotherton, Philip Kretsedemas, Columbia University Press, 2008, p. 17
  33. ^ [3]


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