Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover the topic of demographics and its impact on youth unemployment, political volatility and social unrest at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about social unrest and the demographics behind social unrest.
So take a given age profile. You have the young people, say 0 to 25 years old, you have the middle, which is 25 to 65, and then you have the older people who are 65 and older. Now, in that age profile, who’s making money? People who are making money are in the middle, 25 to 65. They’re employed. They have jobs. Where’s the tax base? The tax base is also in this center place. They have jobs, so they pay the taxes. So this is basically the entire economy right in this center part because they’re the parents who are paying for the kids and they’re also the taxpayers who are paying the entitlement programs for the older people. So the entire economy is supported primarily with this 25 to 65 age bracket.
Where is the social unrest? It’s with the young people, right? It’s with the young people. The young people, you go to any major social unrest place where there’s a lot of violence or bad things going on, the people who are on the streets are for the most part, not exclusively but for the most part, they’re probably like 16- to 25-year-old males. They’re guys. They’re young guys. They’re young guys, they’re full of testosterone, they’re unemployed in many cases.
Here’s the thing: If you have a high birth rate, then the age profile that I described, it looks kind of like that. So you have a lot of kids with a small economy here in the middle. This is the economy here. So when you have a smaller economy because there just aren’t that many people, the economy is made up, the GDP is primarily made up, of consumer spending and that’s people like you and me buying food, energy, shelter, clothing, entertainment. That’s consumer spending. It’s what you and I spend money on. So if there aren’t many people in that age bracket, 25 to 65, then consumer spending is going to be lower than if there were more people in that age bracket. So when you have an age profile like this, the economy relatively speaking is fairly small but you have all these young people.
So what does that mean? It means poverty. It means high youth unemployment. So you get these young people who are financially frustrated, they’re unemployed – many of them, they’re bored, and they’re angry, and so that leads to social unrest. Also, keep in mind that when you have an age profile like this with so many young people—imagine being in a country where you just don’t see that many older people, people who are 35, 45, 55, 65. Having those people around is a moderating force. It’s a moderating influence on the younger people because these younger people are in the world and they see responsible adult behavior happening around them. But when you have an age profile like this, you don’t see that. There aren’t that many adults. There aren’t that many older people. It’s all young people, and they get angry and they get frustrated and they’re in many cases unemployed, like I said. So they’re financially frustrated and you end up with social unrest.
Now, a lot of people when they hear that definition, they think that like I would be pointing just at countries in Africa, for example. Well, we had it right here in America. We had a baby boom generation and back between 1965 and 1975, that’s when the baby boom generation—and our age profile looked almost like this and there were a few bumps along the way but there was a big amount of young people—that’s when they were teenagers and early 20s and we had social unrest here in America. So this is not something that’s exclusive to other countries or Third World, Second World or developing versus developed. It’s not that at all. It’s just a baby boom. When you have a baby boom and there are a lot of children in the economy, there’s a lot of young people in the economy, you tend to have more volatility – political volatility, social volatility, and you get social unrest.
So where is the social unrest today? It is, in fact, in Africa for the most part, and also in some places like Iraq, some places like even Afghanistan. And if you look at the age profile of those countries, which that’s a big part of my work, you see that consistently they look like this, with a lot of young people and a small economy, which means high youth unemployment. It means social unrest.
And many of these countries are in the Muslim part of the world. Muslims have larger families on average and they’re also, for the most part, they’re in that developing process now. So a lot of these countries, the social unrest takes the form of Islamic extremism or anger. The young people who are angry will always lash out at the source of their perceived injustice. They will lash out at the source of their perceived injustice, and in that part of the world, North Africa, Middle East, their perceived injustice is the Western world. It’s America. That’s who they’re angry at. Their perceived injustice is because of the infidels in America and in Europe and wherever else. That is the source of their perceived injustice. And so we have all of this Islamic extremism, whether it’s Boko Haram in Nigeria that has an age profile like this or al-Shabaab in Somalia or ISIS in Iraq and Syria or al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas in Gaza, and even Hezbollah in Lebanon. It’s a baby boom. The entire Arab Spring, it’s just a baby boom. That’s what’s happening. They’re angry, they’re frustrated and they’re lashing out at the source of their perceived injustice.
So I want you to see these dynamics taking place around the world within the context of their demographics. We’re talking about countries where everybody is young and the older population, there aren’t many people who are older adults, and the economy is small so you have poverty. These people, they do have difficulty. They have challenging lives because they’re not booming the way we are here in, I mean, even in Europe and places where the unemployment rate is high, it’s nothing compared to Nigeria, let me tell you, or Kenya. You go to these countries and there’s very, very high youth unemployment and a lot of poverty. So there are good reasons for these people to be angry, and then they have to identify the source of their perceived injustice, which is usually either their own autocratic leaders or the Western world. That’s quite often the source of their perceived injustice, and so we the social unrest that results from that.
The demographics of social unrest, this is predictable stuff. We can see exactly where social unrest is going to happen. You saw it here in America. You see it in other countries in Asia although many of them, the birth rate has dropped dramatically in Asia, in Southeast Asia in particular. So the birth rate there is much lower with a few exceptions like the Philippines, for example, and there again in the Philippines you have more violence than you do in, say, Indonesia, for example, which has a lower birth rate so the proportion of young people is smaller and they have a little bit less social unrest on average. There are exceptions to all these things, but on average this is very predictable stuff and it’s based on demographics.
So hopefully it gives you a way to look, picture yourself standing on the moon and looking down on the Earth and being able to see with precision, country by country, where the social unrest is going to happen and where the economy is growing, where the standard of living is going up, where it’s going down. You can see all of it just by looking at demographics.
Thanks so much for looking at this video. I appreciate it. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.