Sunday, January 07, 2007

Islamic youth bulge

In yesterday's FT, Christopher Caldwell discusses a book by Gunnar Heinsohn called Sohne und Weltmacht:Terror im Aufstag und Fall der Nationen, published in 2003 but not available in English. Heinsohn is a social scientist and genocide researcher at the University of Bremen. He believes that when 15-29 year olds make up more than 30% of a country's population, violence tends to happen. In the decade leading up to 1993 when the Taliban took over, the population of Afghanistan had grown from 14m to 22m. Iraq's population has grown from 5m in 1950 to 25m now, despite the killings there. Since 1967, the population of the West Bank and Gaza has grown from 450,000 to 3.3m and 47% of it is under 15. The problem with a youth bulge society, he says, is that there are not enough positions to provide all the young men with position and standing so envy is unleashed and military "heroism" is used to wrest positions of "respectability". Societies with a glut of young men are temperamentally different from "singleton societies" such as Europe where the prospect of sending an only child to war is almost unthinkable. Of the 27 biggest youth bulge nations, 13 are Muslim and Heinsohn thinks that religion can be a convenient rationalisation for violent people who do not want to think of themselves as common criminals.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those interested, the following website links some of Heinsohn´s articles on his youth bulge theory that are available on the web in english, as well as a free online version of his book "Söhne und Weltmacht" ("Sons and Imperial Power") in german:

This site also links most of Heinsohn´s articles in german that are available on the web.

12:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More info and links on youth bulge theory in the article "war" at, subsection "demographic theories". A number of papers and studies are linked there.

6:37 pm  

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