In This Review

A Question of Numbers: High Migration, Low Fertility, and the Politics of National Identity
A Question of Numbers: High Migration, Low Fertility, and the Politics of National Identity
By Michael S. Teitelbaum and Jay Winter
Hill and Wang, 1998, 304 pp.

A useful reminder to Americans that they are not alone in wrestling with immigration. The book addresses the nexus among fertility, migration, and domestic politics in eight temperate zone countries: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Romania, the former Soviet Union, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia. Natural population growth has declined below replacement levels in all except the Central Asian republics. Net immigration, increasingly from very different societies, has made up the difference in the rich countries, but nativist movements have appeared in all of them. The book makes sometimes rambling but fascinating excursions into such matters as the bizarre and deeply unpopular pro-natal policies of Romania's Ceausescu and the diverse national reactions to Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses (1988). Preserving a national way of life is a legitimate objective, but fear sometimes compels awkward and unsettling debates on who "we" are and what that "way of life" is. Pity the book does not cover China, whose population growth has fallen sharply.