Youth cause of instability

Posted on 2011-01-28 by Adrian

The German demographer Gunnar Heinsohn claimed to the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the fight against the Taliban and other extremist fractions is pointless. He also says that the problem the Western forces are faces is not Islam in any form, but the surplus youth that is susceptible to extremist ideas and actions. "The problem doesn't lie in an old book, the problem lies in young men reinterpreting an old book"

The “youth bulge” as he calls it is a theory based on unrest in various regions in the world compared to their demographics. A “youth bulge” is an anomaly in the demographic statistic when there’s more 30% of the male population is between the ages of 15 and 29. This age group often has difficulty to find work, which affects their chances of marriage and social standing. They are sensitive to what Heinsohn calls “political agitators”. Of the 67 countries with a “youth bulge”, 60 are experiencing serious conflicts. “In the last fifty years, Afghan women had an average of 7 children. Every year 500’000 of them reach the age of 15 each year. If there’s jobs of 150’000, that leaves 350’000. Most of these children don’t want to fight, but let’s assume one in 10 joins the Taliban or an extremist group, that’s a total of 35’000 new fighters each year. This yearly resupply is more than the entire contingent of Western troops in Afghanistan.” War is a way to gain social status and make a living for these youths. This holds true from all conflicts ranging from Somalia to the Philippines.

Heinsohn supports his thesis with examples like the ending of guerrilla wars in South America, the rise of Nazi Germany and the loss of European colonies. As the families shrunk, so did the willingness of parents to send their sole child into war. According to Heinsohn, the model also works inverted; in places where birthrates drop, violence is also on the decline. For example Algeria used to be a hotbed for extremist activity, which has declined as the birthrate dropped to just 2 children per family unit. However, Heinsohn also admits his model isn’t absolute — in regions with extreme poverty, or where heavy drug trade is involved for instance it doesn’t work. He also predicts the Jihad in the Middle- East and Central Asia will rage on for another decade before petering out due to a lack of new recruits in the form of a large group of young males.

Click here to read the full article by Peter Giesen in De Volkskrant (in Dutch)
Click here to see Gunnar Heinsohn’s book “Söhne und Weltmacht” on

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