"Something dramatic has happened to the world’s birthrates. Defying predictions of demographic decline, northern Europeans have started having more babies. Britain and France are now projecting steady population growth through the middle of the century. In North America, the trends are similar. In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China. Indeed, the population of the world’s current demographic colossus will be shrinking. And China is but one particularly sharp example of a widespread fall in birthrates that is occurring across most of the developing world, including much of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The one glaring exception to this trend is sub-Saharan Africa, which by the end of this century may be home to one-third of the human race."
"Iran is experiencing what may be one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in human history. Thirty years ago, after the shah had been driven into exile and the Islamic Republic was being established, the fertility rate was 6.5. By the turn of the century, it had dropped to 2.2. Today, at 1.7, it has collapsed to European levels. The implications are profound for the politics and power games of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, putting into doubt Iran’s dreams of being the regional superpower and altering the tense dynamics between the Sunni and Shiite wings of Islam. Equally important are the implications for the economic future of Iran, which by midcentury may have consumed all of its oil and will confront the challenge of organizing a society with few people of working age and many pensioners."
Europe, however, is rebounding slightly (quick! Someone tell Mark Steyn!), while in the developing world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, birthrates are shrinking fast. As a result of the discrepancy between sub-Saharan Africa and everywhere else:
"By midcentury, sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be the demographic center of Islam, home to as many Muslims as Asia and to far more than inhabit the Middle East. The non-Arab Muslim countries of Africa—Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal—constitute the one region of the Islamic world where birthrates remain high. In several of these countries, the average woman will have upward of five children in her lifetime. (...) By 2050, it is almost certain that most of the world’s Christians will live in Africa."
"For the better part of a generation, Russia has suffered something akin to wartime population losses during year after year of peacetime political order. In the United Nations Development Program’s annually tabulated “Human Development Index,” which uses health as well as economic data to measure a country’s living standards as they affect quality of life, Russia was number 73 out of 179. A country of virtually universal literacy and quite respectable general educational attainment, with a scientific cadre that mastered nuclear fission over half a century ago and launches orbital spacecraft and interplanetary probes today, finds itself ranked on this metric between Mauritius and Ecuador."