Divergent Patterns in the Ethnic Transformation of Societies through Immigration

David A. Coleman, University of Oxford

The uneven timing of the demographic transition in different countries of the world will lead to divergence between countries in ethnic and religious homogeneity. Developed-country populations that began their fertility transitions relatively early are becoming increasingly diverse with respect to the ethnic origin and religion of their inhabitants, thanks primarily to high recent levels of immigration. Many patterns of the developed world, such as low death and birth rates, become universal. The heterogeneity arising from immigration will be an exception to that general trend and will be less marked in many of those developing countries which began their fertility transitions much later. This paper evaluates critically the data and assumptions behind this proposition, whether indeed the growing heterogeneity of Western countries today should be regarded as inevitable, and what the social, economic and political consequences might be especially if other countries do not follow suit.

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Presented in Session 176: Attitudes toward Immigrants and Future Impacts