Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Religiosity, Fertility and Politics



Eric P. Kaufmann, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK


The book argues that the population of the developed world will become increasingly religious and conservative in the long-term, reversing decades – even centuries – of liberal secularisation. There will be no mass conversions or sudden shifts in the cultural mood. Instead, religiosity will spread largely through demographic advantage in a world where secular religions and sources of secular enchantment have exhausted themselves.

Based on a wealth of demographic research, Kaufmann shows that the more religious people are, regardless of income, faith tradition or education, the more children they have. Religious countries have faster population growth than secular ones which is why immigrants are typically much more religious than their secular host societies. The cumulative effect of immigration and religious fertility is to slow or reverse the secularisation process in the West, which we already see in gateway cities such as London or Paris.

Within faiths, those who are fundamentalist – rather than traditional or liberal – in their beliefs have the largest families and tend to lose the fewest members to nonreligion. Among Jews, the Ultra-Orthodox may achieve majority status over their liberal counterparts by mid-century. Evangelical and neo-traditional Christians are eclipsing mainline Christianity in the United States and Europe. Islamist Muslims have won the culture war in much of the Muslim world, even as the Arab Spring has reconfigured power in the region.

Drawing on extensive demographic research, and considering questions of multiculturalism and terrorism, Kaufmann examines the implications of the decline in liberal secularism as religious conservatism rises – and what this means for the future of western modernity. A number of the most prominent recorded events for the book are featured below.

For related work, see Political Demography: How Population Changes Are Reshaping International Security and National Politics, edited by J. A. Goldstone, Eric Kaufmann and Monica Duffy Toft (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2012) and Whither the Child: causes and consequences of low fertility (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2013)


View talk at American Enterprise Institute, Washington, May 20, 2011

View talk at New America Foundation, Washington, May 18, 2011

View talk from Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House, Oct 3, 2010

Hear the interview with John Cleary on Australian Broadcasting Corporation ‘Sunday Nights’on the book

See youtube video of Eric’s talk at the RSA on April 15


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