Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Demographic Evolutions between Religion and Politics

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Demographic Evolutions between Religion and Politics

Article excerpt

Valuing the professional literature, the paper highlights in its first part, the main factors that influence the demographic behaviours, especially birth-rate, meaning the cultural, biological, economic, social and political factors. I have tried to focus on a possible supremacy of the religious and political factor in comparison to other factors which have an influence on demographic evolutions.

In the second part we approached the religion and the projections regarding the youngsters' demographic behaviour. Referring these results to statistical data on this issue, that are to be found in the Statistical Annual of Bihor County, we tried to reveal the trends of the evolution of birth-rate and to make the difference between objective statistical data and subjective echoes of 18 year old high school students way of thinking, regarding the potential impact of religion - nowadays studied in the Romanian schools - on the demographic behaviour.

Key Words:

religion, religiousness, policies, birth-rate, demographic behaviour, youngsters, religious education, research, secularization, statistics

Theoretical issues

In the European space, together with the birth of the modern state, the influence of religion has decreased as a consequence of the ideas promoted by the French humanists and afterwards, by the American ones who believed in the power of reason as a means of solving all the humankind problems. Subsequently, the decline of religion appeared in the context of secularisation processes, meaning a rupture between man and God, respectively laicisation, a process of separation of the state from religion1 However, religion hasn't disappear from man's life; nowadays we even assist to a religious rebirth as a "reaction against laicisation, moral relativism, lack of self-esteem, and a reaffirmation of value, order, labour discipline, mutual help and human solidarity2. Religion continues to play a very important part, together with politics. What I think has changed, is the place these two claim: politics - the public, collective, communitarian one, religion - the private, personal, individual one, the one of human condition, both claiming relationships of power: with the divinity, in the case of religion, with the laic power, in the case of politics.

On the level of demographic evolutions, politics acts by means of demographic policies, charting the interest of the state, whereas religion acts in order to adapt the demographic behaviour to the divine prescriptions using for this purpose the religious teaching and the constraining religious practices. The effects of political and religious actions on the demographical level were and still are more or less visible in different periods of time, often according to specific means used for this purpose.

Birth-rate, fertility rate, marriage rate, divorce rate, mortality rate are terms and facts invoked in any demographic analysis and found in an interdependent relationship to one another. The attempt to perceive and explain the evolution of one of them proves to be a much more complex trial, getting beyond demographic borders.

Birth-rate represents the frequency of live births among a certain population, while fertility stands for the frequency of births among fertile age population, females (15-49 years) and males (20-60 years).

After 1960 the birth-rate decreased in the developed countries so much that, in these countries, except for the USA and Ireland, the simple rate of generation change is not assured any longer (2,1 children per woman). The decrease of birth-rate brings along, in its turn, deterioration of the age structure of the population with long term negative consequences.

The low birth-rate in in these countries is due to a multitude of factors, such as: the emancipation of woman and her increasing participation to economic activities outside the household; the increase of the schooling period and level; the weaken of cultural norms influence; increasing social mobility, the high child cost; the reduction of the economic function of the child and especially of its role for the economic security of older persons; the apparition of modern contraception etc. …

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