The failure of pronatalism in developed states 'with cultural-ethnic hegemony': The Israeli lesson

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During the past two decades, the 'hot' demographic issue in the developed states 'with cultural-ethnic hegemony' changed radically - from a focus on 'global demographic pressure', namely, the 'Malthusian syndrome' of rapid population growth in the developing countries, to the ethno-religious composition of their own populations. The solution adopted by many of these countries to tackle the twin demographic challenges of population ageing and the changing dependency ratio was the implementation of pronatalist policies which aimed at reducing their dependence upon labour immigration. This article examines the efficiency of these pronatalist policies through the Israeli case.1 The core questions of the article are: Has the Israeli pronatalist policy achieved its basic aims? What influence did the Israeli natalist policy and the child allowance structure have on the fertility patterns of the Israeli-Arabs? What can be learned from the Israeli experience regarding the efficiency of these pronatalist policies in developed states? The major lesson from the Israeli experience is that, to a large extent, these pronatalist polices failed. The fertility rate of the Jewish middle class, the Christian-Arabs and the Druze steadily declined, while that of the Israeli-Muslims, although lower since the 1960s, is still twice that of the Jewish middle class. One can find a similar situation in all of the developed states 'with cultural-ethnic hegemony.' Thus, the inescapable conclusion is that in democratic-developed societies, in which women enjoy equity in every respect, fertility rates will eventually decline to below replacement-level regardless of pronatalist financial benefits. Consequently, the process of the developed states 'with cultural-ethnic hegemony' becoming developed states 'without cultural-ethnic hegemony' is irreversible due to the constant need for massive labour immigration. In the case of Israel, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, there are high fertility rates in only two communities - the Ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Muslims - paradoxically the two 'non-Zionist' communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-134
Number of pages16
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant no. 50175094.


  • Child allowances
  • Fertility
  • Israel
  • Israeli-Muslim fertility
  • Pronatalist policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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