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Boy Scout Enrollment: Growth Declines in '98, '99


Dear SFA:

Here are some thoughts on Boy Scout Enrollment growth:

It took a while, but I did some research with the US census population estimates by age, to compare them with BAS enrollment data.

For the years between censuses, the bureau estimates population changes based on a number of factors. The data I used divided the population by into five-year cohorts by gender. These cohorts do not exactly match the age range of the BSA target population, which is age 7 to 18. By summing the 5 to 9, 10 to 14, and 15 to 19 age groups I got as close as I could.

There were 30,101,000 males age 5 to 19 during 1998, and 30,371,000 in 1999, an increase of 0.90%. Scouting claims an increase of 0.80% for membership in "traditional units" during this period. In other words, as a percentage of the eligible population, scout enrollment actually declined slightly.

It is fairly safe to conclude that most of the increase in BSA membership is due to fluctuations in the number of people eligible to
join, i.e., there were more eligible boys in 1999 than there were in 1998.

Demographically, we are nearing the end of the "baby boom echo," an upsurge in births as the baby boomers had their families. This means that we can expect membership to stagnate then decline several years from now.

BSA enrollment successes are in large part products of the population changes, since "A high tide floats all boats."

If I find better data, specifically yearly rather than five year cohort data, I will refine this analysis,

Yours in Scouting

Ed
Scouting For All Supporter



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