The Bolivian school system has reported difficulties in dealing with huge numbers of Mennonite children, the ethnic German and Dutch religious minority in that country can double its numbers in around 15 years.
In 1995, there were just 28,000 Mennonites in Bolivia. By 2011, this figure had more than doubled to 70,000 in just one generation. By 2020, it is estimated that the total population will swell to more than 120,000.
A farming heritage and culture, the Mennonites marry young and typically build large families around traditional gender roles. Young men and women will find their husband or wife at Sunday church services.
From just 37 families in the mid 1950s to a homogeneous populace that can more than double its population in less than one generation, the Mennonites are producing huge birth-rates against a concerning backdrop of plummeting European birth-rates.
The average Mennonite family in Bolivia has 8 children, compared to Europe as a region, which has the lowest fertility rate (1.6) in the world. Greece, Spain and Italy’s birth-rate is even lower than the European average, standing at 1.3 according to the Population Reference Bureau.
This community’s astonishing population boom even exceeds the highest national fertility rates in the world, with multiple sources confirming Niger’s place at the head of the table with a current rate at 7.3 births per woman. Africa as a continent has the highest fertility rate at 4.6 births per woman.
Experts point to the Mennonite’s traditional family structures and culture – which promotes the important role of women as homemakers and mothers – as the main factor in the community’s prolific population surge.
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In 2009, the Mennonite community was attacked by western feminists for its shunning of modern pervertarian ideas, but Mainstream journalists visited some of the communities and were shocked to report that they found happy children and adults, enjoying stable family environments.
The communities have expressed the view that they prefer to left alone by the government and the indigenous population of Bolivia, stating that their seclusion from the ‘melting pot’ is a ‘luxury’.