Another reason Watchtower may be hurting financially
I don't think anyone else has raised this point. Below I set out the case that the JW demographic in USA has a steadily decreasing combined income, and as a consequence, has less money to donate. Not only is the flock not growing, the flock is producing less wool for the Borg to fleece. Further, the decrease is significant, and likely to continue.
I am concentrating on USA, because what happens in the USA is far more important to the global health of the Borg, than in any other country. The same argument probably applies to a number of countries. I am cross-referencing to data I previously extracted from the Australian 2016 census, because:
(a) the similarity in that data leads me to conclude very similar things are happening in USA; and
(b) there is much more data available from the Aust census.
Key Pew Findings:
The complete Pew Report in pdf is here:
Page 50 of the Pew Report shows that in USA from 2007 to 2014, the median age (of adults) went from 45 to 50. None of the other religions listed on that page show such an increase.
Page 58 of the report shows that in 2007 JWs have lower incomes than most other religions, and that their incomes further deteriorated in 2014.
Page 60 of the report shows that the demographics of the religion is becoming more feminine. In 2007, the ratio of men to women was 40:60. In 2014, the ratio was 35:65. JWism is easily the most imbalanced religion listed.
Weaknesses in the Pew Report are that, as a survey:
- Only 245 JWs completed the survey (see Appendix A page 89); and
- Only those 18 or older were allowed to complete the survey.
The Aust censuses of 2006, 2011 and 2016 were effectively surveys of 80,000 JWs. On the following thread, I showed that the Aust JW median age was also going through a substantial increase in median age.
The increase in median age was not quite as dramatic (5 year increase over a 10 year period in Aust, with the same increase in USA occuring in just 7 years) but it shows a pattern. Actually, because the Aust data includes minors, the 43.9 median age in 2016 in Australia would be equivalent to 43.9 + 9 = 53.9, so actually the Aust JWs are typically 4 years older than their US "brothers and sisters". If you look closely at the numbers, you can see that further increase is inevitable.
On the following thread, I showed that Aust JWs were also earning less, compared to the overall population, and from 2011 to 2016, they appeared to be falling further behind:
However, if you read the detail of the thread, you will see that the reason they appear to be falling further behind is that they are becoming older and past their prime income earning age. It is a by-product of the increase in median age.
Less money for the Borg in Aust:
What I didn't spell out in my second thread above, is that, in effect the total JW community in Aust in:
- 2011 had a combined weekly income of $411 x 85,498 = $35,139,678 ; and
- 2016 had a combined weekly income of $420 x 82,512 = $34,655,040
In other words, if every JW in Aust was donating one week's pay per year to the Borg, the Borg would be getting 1.5% less income in 2016 than it did in 2011. But this is a period where statistically incomes increased over 14%. So the Borg is actually 15% worse off. One could characterize it as a 3% drop per annum, in real terms.
Of course, one may argue that older people have less expenses etc (although I am not sure that that is true), but it is clear that there is less wool to fleece from the flock.
Relating back to USA:
If you have read this far, you will notice the similar increase in median age and the similar decrease in incomes in Aust and USA. I won't go into detail, but the gender gap is similar as well.
Detailed statistics would be needed to prove the point conclusively, but from the above, it is reasonable to conclude that JWs in USA as a demographic, have less money to donate than they used to, and will have even less money to donate in the future. Further, there is likely that this rate of decrease is of the order of 3% decrease per annum, in real terms. That has to be painful for the Borg.
As I said, not only is the flock not growing, the flock is producing less wool for the Borg to fleece.
An excellent posting.
Thanks shepherdless, interesting analysis. I'd also point out that the decrease in contributions may be larger than the decrease in income because of the important distinction between income and disposable income. In other words, while JW income may decrease by 3% in real terms, the fall in disposable income (which drives spending, including charitable donations) will be much larger.
The refusal to allow young JWs to get an education may really be coming back to bite Watchtower. Some small poetic justice I suppose. But hardly worth it for all the hardship it puts faithful JW born-ins through. Young JWs are splitting into various groups these days: 1) those who remain good JWs and stop at minimum education 2) those who somehow manage to excuse getting an education while remaining in "good standing", and 3) those who leave and pursue education as normal. As the years roll on, those in the first group probably have many occasions to observe others and wonder if they made the right choice.
So those who leave and get an education are no longer around and contributing to Watchtower, and those who remain have lower disposable incomes, and some may be increasingly resentful of the low income situation they were effectively coerced into, and less inclined to contribute the little they have. It's the perfect storm, or a downward spiral for Watchtower, to mix metaphors.
A religion mostly composed of part-time toilet or window-cleaners or retired ladies will be condemned to get fewer and fewer money.
This is so true and as this crazy cult goes on it seems to me that there’s a lot of apathy. For most of my time in I never donated , my wife who was and still is PIMI way more then I ever was never really donated or asked me if I did. A friend which is now out but was in for 50 years and was a MS for a time said he doesn’t think he donated more then 100 bucks the whole time he was in.
People are broke struggling and a lot of them are just plain apathetic when it comes to the cult. They go because they have to but once there they don’t really engage at the meeting and especially when not there.
Its also good to see how many halls are really half full or less. I think the begging for money that the cult does way more often then ever before is their attempt to get as much as they can while they can.
sbf: ...the decrease in contributions may be larger than the decrease in income because of the important distinction between income and disposable income. In other words, while JW income may decrease by 3% in real terms, the fall in disposable income (which drives spending, including charitable donations) will be much larger.
Yes, that is quite true.
I was avoiding complicating the issue, in the o.p. There are a number of factors that come into play, about how much is available to donate. For example, older people may have fewer essential expenses because they are not raising kids, or may try to save harder, given they know there is little further income coming in for the rest of their lives. I chose words to try to steer clear of that debate, and let others argue about it, if they wanted.
The refusal to allow young JWs to get an education may really be coming back to bite Watchtower.
Yes. However, there seems to be a more fundamental problem; a lack of young JWs in the first place. Reasons may be:
1. a complete failure to recruit, in recent times;
2. the usual drop out in the late teens / early 20s; and
3. as I pointed out in one of my earlier posts, it seems the "return to Jehovah's" aren't returning in the numbers that they used to.
What I mean by point 3 is that it seems it used to be the case that a lot of late teens / early 20s JWs would leave, but come back around the time they have kids of their own. In an earlier thread, I put up some stats that suggested they don't return to the extent they used to.
I also wonder whether, overall, shunning has had a backfire effect, and has lost them more younger members, never to return, than they might have retained by the threat. For whatever reason Watchtower has a shortage of youngsters and it is hurting them in a number of ways, including financial.
Crazyguy mentioned apathy; well, I think apathy in JW land is increasing. It's just not like it used to be when JWs thought the end was coming any minute and perhaps were moved to donate accordingly. JWs no longer have a date or specific time limit. As 1914 fades further into the past, I think more and more are donating less and less.
Interesting post Shepardless, thank you for putting that work in for us.
won't go into detail, but the gender gap is similar as well.
I'm guessing this means since women are increasing as a percentage of jws over men, and women generally earning so much less than men, this too will impact donations.
I love your analogy of their being "less wool to FLEECE" LoL!
Isn't there a set amount of money a congregation is supposed to contribute to the WTS HQ ?
I thought the WTS/JWS exploited the poor in telling them " Well dont worry Armageddon is coming soon so you wont need to worry about money anymore "
From my experience, about half of the contributions in the KH box came from just a handful of families (maybe 3), and they’d usually write a consistent check every month. The people that did this were always well-established families, and they’re getting older and dying off.
About half of the families would give the other half of the contributions, usually in cash. (Since it was cash, it was a little harder to know, but you could tell who walked by the contribution box and slipped something in.) These families were not as stable, as far as I could tell.
My estimate is that about half of the publishers never gave anything. Many of them were along for the social experience, some were mentally ill, in hindsight some were probably awake. This last group will be increasing. Their donators are literally dying off.