January 17, 2008


Exploding population (Gunnar Heinsohn, January 17, 2008, IHT)

As in so many other African countries, Kenya's exploding violence can be traced to an exploding population that often goes unnoted by local and international media alike.

In only 80 years, Kenya's population has jumped from 2.9 million to 37 million. Had America grown at the same rate since 1928, when it had 120 million people, it would now have 1.56 billion citizens.

Kenya belongs to a group of some 40 countries that have extremely high population growth - rates of increase that I call "demographic armament." In a typical nation of this group, every 1,000 males aged 40 to 44 are succeeded by at least 2,500 boys aged 0 to 4. In Kenya there are 4,190 such boys.

By contrast, America meets the criteria of "demographic neutrality," in which 1,000 men aged 40 to 44 are followed by 900 to 1,400 boys aged 0 to 4 (in the United States, the figure is 977 boys). Britain, with just 677 boys between 0 and 4 replacing every 1,000 males 40 to 44, is in the category of "demographic capitulation." Germany, with just 474 boys following every 1,000 men, provides the most prominent example of "demographic suicide" (fewer than 650 boys replacing 1,000 men).

Between 1950 and 1985, Kenya's total fertility rate (children per woman's lifetime) hovered around eight. In 2007, each Kenyan woman still gave birth to an average of 5 children (compared to 2 in the United States and 1.6 in Britain), and there were 40 newborn babies for every 10 deaths (the corresponding figures for the U.S. is 14 births for every 8 deaths; for Britain, it's 10 for 10).

As a result, Kenyan men have a median age of 18 years (compared to 35 in the United States, 39 in Britain), and 42 percent of Kenyan males are under 15 (U.S.: 20 percent, Britain: 17 percent).

And because of higher living standards, these younger Kenyans are much more vital and ambitious than their predecessors.

Thus Kenya provides a textbook example of domestic violence that is driven by what I call a "youth bulge" - a period of rapid demographic growth in which 30 to 40 percent of all males are aged 15 to 29.

Yet the pundits will all express shock when China explodes in a killing frenzy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2008 5:30 PM
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