Population pyramid  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A population pyramid, also called an age structure diagram, is a graphical illustration that shows the distribution of various age groups in a human population (typically that of a country or region of the world), which ideally forms the shape of a pyramid when the region is healthy.

Youth bulge phenomenon

Gary Fuller (1995) described Youth bulge as a type of expansive pyramid. Gunnar Heinsohn (2003) argues that an excess in especially young adult male population predictably leads to social unrest, war and terrorism, as the "third and fourth sons" that find no prestigious positions in their existing societies rationalize their impetus to compete by religion or political ideology.

Heinsohn claims that most historical periods of social unrest lacking external triggers (such as rapid climatic changes or other catastrophic changes of the environment) and most genocides can be readily explained as a result of a built-up youth bulge, including European colonialism, 20th-century fascism, rise of Communism during the Cold War, and ongoing conflicts such as that in Darfur and terrorism. This factor has been also used to account for the Arab Spring events. Economic recessions, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Late 2000's recession, are also claimed to be explained in part due to a large youth population who cannot find jobs. Youth bulge can be seen as one factor among many in explaining social unrest and uprisings in society. A 2016 study finds that youth bulges increases the chances of non-ethnic civil wars, but not ethnic civil wars.

A large population of adolescents entering the labor force and electorate strains at the seams of the economy and polity, which were designed for smaller populations. This creates unemployment and alienation unless new opportunities are created quickly enough – in which case a 'demographic dividend' accrues because productive workers outweigh young and elderly dependents. Yet the 16–30 age range is associated with risk-taking, especially among males. In general, youth bulges in developing countries are associated with higher unemployment and, as a result, a heightened risk of violence and political instability. For Cincotta and Doces (2011), the transition to more mature age structures is almost a sine qua non for democratization.

To reverse the effects of youth bulges, specific policies such as creating more jobs, improving family planning programs, and reducing over all infant mortality rates should be a priority.

Middle East and North Africa

Demographic trap

The Middle East and North Africa are currently experiencing a prominent youth bulge. "Across the Middle East, countries have experienced a pronounced increase in the size of their youth populations over recent decades, both in total numbers and as a percentage of the total population. Today, the nearly 111 million individuals aging between 15 to 29 living across the region make up nearly 27 percent of the region’s population." Structural changes in service provision, especially health care, beginning in the 1960s created the conditions for a demographic explosion, which has resulted in a population consisting primarily of younger people. It is estimated that around 65% of the regional population is under the age of 30.

The Middle East has invested more in education, including religious education, than most other regions such that education is available to most children. However, that education has not led to higher levels of employment, and youth unemployment is currently at 25%, the highest of any single region. Of this 25%, over half are first time entrants into the job market.

The youth bulge in the Middle East and North Africa has been favorably compared to that of East Asia, which harnessed this human capital and saw huge economic growth in recent decades. The youth bulge has been referred to by the Middle East Youth Initiative as a demographic gift, which, if engaged, could fuel regional economic growth and development. "While the growth of the youth population imposes supply pressures on education systems and labor markets, it also means that a growing share of the overall population is made up of those considered to be of working age; and thus not dependent on the economic activity of others. In turn, this declining dependency ratio can have a positive impact on overall economic growth, creating a demographic dividend. The ability of a particular economy to harness this dividend, however, is dependent on its ability to ensure the deployment of this growing working-age population towards productive economic activity, and to create the jobs necessary for the growing labor force."

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Population pyramid" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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