Nobody seems to know exactly how fast France, the cultural heartland of the West over the past millennium, is being demographically transformed. But I have found a way to estimate the percentage of babies being born in France who are of non-European ancestry.
Some young Americans who went to Paris last year told me they were stunned by how non-European the famous city has become. Like an increasing number of tourists, they found the inundation of Africans and Middle Easterners to be depressing.
As recently as a decade ago, though, most visitors reported back that the often riotous nonwhites were largely stuck in their suburban banlieues, leaving the incomparable central city as its traditional tourist attraction. Indeed, Paris inspired the mayors of Chicago over the past quarter of a century to Parisianize Chicago by pushing poor blacks out to the margins and replacing them with affluent white gentrifiers.
But recent eyewitness reports suggest that Paris, and much of France overall, is becoming more Third World. This is rather surprising since the French economy has been weak for years. Many African and Asian “refugees” safely in France tried for years to get from the “Jungle” they set up in Calais to higher-paying England. The French government has also been less ostentatiously welcoming than the German government was in 2015.
But it is hard to get any statistics to back up these eyeball estimates.
“Sickle-cell disease has been increasing rapidly in France due to immigration. It’s now the most common genetic disease in France.”
A rare 2016 survey of French teens found 25.5 percent identifying as Muslim. And there are also non-Muslims from sub-Saharan Africa, as well as better-behaved nonwhite groups like the Vietnamese.
The American government bans collecting Census data by religion or citizenship, but is relentless in tabulating residents by race and (Hispanic) ethnicity. In contrast, the French government believes it would be a violation of Republican principles to categorize citizens by ancestry, so it bans official data collection by race.
It’s often suggested by idealistic Americans that if the U.S. government didn’t collect so many statistics on race, then we wouldn’t have so many problems with race. But the French government collects no racial statistics, yet still seems to have a broad set of racial problems, such as the endemic car-be-ques: For instance, 945 cars were torched on New Year’s Eve in France.
Back in the fall of 2005, when 8,973 cars were burned, the American news media were hazy over who exactly the rioters comprised. Were the “youths” more North African Muslims waging jihad or were they more black Africans raising hell for the hell of it? No Americans knew for sure, and the French authorities seemed to feel it would be inappropriate to find out.
On the other hand, the French national health authority is rightfully worried about sickle-cell anemia, a genetic disease that can afflict people whose ancestry on both sides traces from warm parts of the world. And this obscure data provides us with a rare entrée into quantifying the rapidly changing demographics of France.
The sickle-cell gene mutation is a quick and dirty Darwinian response to the horrific threat of falciparum malaria that spread when agriculture emerged in sub-Saharan Africa several thousand years ago. The disease’s vector, the anopheles mosquito, breeds in sunny puddles—for example, in the deforested farmlands of West Africa.
Falciparum malaria is really, really bad for you. Therefore Africans soon evolved a dangerous defense. If you inherit one copy of the gene, you are more likely to survive malaria. If you inherit two copies, however, your genes may kill you.
This is clearly not an elegant evolutionary solution to the menace of falciparum malaria. But it does show how bad the malaria threat is in sub-Saharan Africa and in some other warm regions that it works out just as well on a survival-of-the-fittest calculus than never inheriting these potentially lethal alleles.
The genetics of sickle-cell anemia were an early influence on the field of human biodiversity studies. In some places in West Africa, as many as one-fourth of the population carry one copy of the sickle-cell gene, providing them with relief from malaria. But that means that one-sixteenth would inherit two copies and thus suffer sickle-cell disease.
In contrast, if only one out of 20 have one copy, then the chance of inheriting two copies is merely one out of 400. Thus, the frequency of the mutant version evolves to respond to the severity of the disease in the region.
Among African-Americans in the U.S., where falciparum malaria is not common, it appears that the sickle-cell gene has been slowly dying out over the past few hundred years.
Sickle-cell disease has been increasing rapidly in France due to immigration. It’s now the most common genetic disease in France.
The French government has started a neonatal screening process for babies at risk of inheriting the disease. The percentage of newborns screened due to their ancestry tells us much about the onrushing demographics of France.
But it’s important to look carefully at the rules for who is screened, so I’m going to walk through a number of methodological issues before presenting the data.
Only children who are likely descended through both parents from certain regions are at risk of getting the disease. This particular genetic variant is most common on the Atlantic coast of sub-Saharan Africa, but it is also found in India and places in between where falciparum malaria is a hazard. This includes some parts of Mediterranean Europe, although probably no places on the French mainland.
The French government says, “This disease mainly affects children from the Caribbean, Black Africa and North Africa.”
On the other hand, its more detailed warnings point out that there is a small chance of the disease deriving from the warmest parts of Europe. The French health authority specifies that the regions at risk are:
French departments overseas: West Indies, French Guiana, Reunion, Mayotte
All sub-Saharan Africa and Cape Verde
South America (Brazil), Blacks in North America
India, Indian Ocean, Madagascar, Mauritius Comoros
Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman
Some nonwhites, such as Vietnamese, Chinese, and Tahitians, are not tested because sickle cell is not native to their homeland.
(East Asians appear to make up 1 to 2 percent of the population of France today, but they cause fewer problems than Muslims and blacks, so their profile is lower.)
Some percentage of white babies are tested for sickle-cell disease, but it’s not clear how many.
A fair number of white people in France have ancestors from southern Italy or Greece. Also, a fair number of Jewish French are at least in part from Algeria.
But the test is offered only to those who are descended on both sides from a region at risk. The government’s rules are:
Currently, for the newborn to be screened:
Both parents must come from a region at risk.
Only one of the two if the second is not known.
If there is a history of major sickle cell syndrome in the family.
If there is doubt about criteria 1, 2, 3.
So a baby who is French on one side and Sicilian on the other would not be tested.
It’s worth noting that this test is not offered to those who might have inherited one copy of the gene, just those who might have the disease because they inherited two. (The French government apparently doesn’t want to be accused of promoting eugenic knowledge, the way Orthodox Jews test for genetic Tay-Sachs risk, so it doesn’t offer people awareness of whether their children might be at risk before they are conceived.)
For example, if Barack Obama were born in France today, he would not be tested because he couldn’t have inherited a copy of the gene through his northern European mother. (And yet, on the 2010 Census, the president refused to acknowledge his white ancestry, marking himself down as only black.)
On the other hand, Barack and Michelle’s daughters might have been tested because they could have inherited the mutation through both parents. Or perhaps not. The French state specifies, “Both parents must come from a region of risk,” so the test might not apply to the Obama daughters, whose risk is half as great as if their parents were both fully black.
To take a Continental example, half-African tennis player Yannick Noah, who won the French Open in 1983, would not be tested because his mother was white. Nor would his son, NBA center Joakim Noah, because his mother was Miss Sweden.
So babies who have one native French parent are not tested even if the other parent is black. It’s not clear what the government wants done for people like the Obama daughters, who are three-quarters black.
Let’s put all the potential adjustments in one place before I reveal the unadjusted 2015 percentage of newborns tested:
Some numbers of wholly European babies are tested because both parents come from the southernmost parts of Europe.
Some babies who are as black as Barack Obama are not tested because one parent is northern European.
All nonwhite Indochinese, East Asians, and Polynesians are not tested.
Overall, I’d guesstimate that these three adjustments about wash out. Maybe they would bump the real percentage of nonwhite babies up or down somewhat. It’s hard to say. But considering them all together, they don’t seem likely to bias the number all that much.
After all those preliminaries, here are the unadjusted percentages of newborns targeted for testing in France because both parents come from the Global South:
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