What is “demographic engineering” and how does it differ from ethnic cleansing?
Demographic engineering may include ethnic cleansing.
ethnic cleansing : the expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity
Books interview with Paul Morland: “Even the Spanish flu pandemic wasn’t enough to stop population growth”. Dr Paul Morland is an associate research fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London, specialising in demography. He is the author of Demographic Engineering: Population Strategies in Ethnic Conflict (Routledge, 2014).
Q: You talk about ‘demographic engineering’ – what does that involve?
A: Demographic engineering is when groups in conflict use demography in order to strengthen their hand against the other side. I talk about two types: hard and soft.
Hard demographic engineering is when you change a population through demographic factors themselves – attempting to manipulate birth rates, death rates or migration. In its most extreme form it could even include genocide. One example of hard demographic engineering would be Northern Ireland’s Protestant establishment encouraging Catholics to emigrate in the 1960s and 1970s. This was a rather deliberate strategy to counter high Catholic birth rates and strengthen Protestant numbers. Another example would be the elevated birth rates of both Israelis and Palestinians when compared to similar groups – what could be termed ‘competitive breeding’, driven by a group’s desire to reinforce their numbers in a time of conflict.
Soft demographic engineering is when you try and change a population through non-demographic means, such as redrawing boundaries or manipulating cultural or national identities. To take another example from Northern Ireland: when the state was founded, there was a decision to include six rather than nine counties, as those six counties constituted a much more sustainable Protestant-majority population. It was about defining the state in a way that favoured one group over another.