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  • Eagle Scout statistics

    To figure out the statistics, you need all of the numbers.

    Let's look at 2005. The membership report is at:

    We have 879,789 Boy Scouts, 63,637 Varsity Scouts and 249,948 Venturers for a total of 1,193,374. There were 49,895 Eagle Scout awards- that is 4.2%.

    But... Not all of those Venturers were eligible- some were female, some were over 18 and some never made First Class as a Scout. You take those out and it rises to something over 5%.

    But if we disregard all of the ineligible Venturers, shouldn't we also ignore the ineligible Scouts? Only Life Scouts can make Eagle- now the pool is smaller and we get perhaps 15% or so- I don't have those numbers. But, that ignores the "career" First Class Scouts- those who stay in Scouting without advancing but still have the potential for Eagle.

    We don't have all of the numbers, but even if we did, we have to make decisions about the eligible pool. I suspect that National has chosen to use the first solution as the simplest.

  • #2
    Yah, the current BSA published Eagle percentage is a bit over 5%. It's computed just the way epalmer suggests - take the total number of Eagles in a year and divide by the total number of registered Boy Scouts. As such, it's totally a bogus number when it's used to show that the Eagle award is "rare" or "hard to earn." It glitters like moonbeams on cow pies.

    What most of us mean by "Percent that earn Eagle Scout" is "What percent of the boys who join Boy Scouting eventually earn Eagle Scout?" As Oak Tree reminds us repeatedly, that number is much higher than 5%. I expect it's at least 15% and probably a fair bit above that. My own guess is in the 20+% range.

    Why are they different?

    Well, if a troop gets 10 new boys a year (at age 11) and never loses anyone until they age out, then they'll have 70 boys in the troop. If every boy makes Eagle, then 10 boys on average every year will make Eagle. By the BSA's figures, that's 10 boys out of 70 registered, or 14%. Still sounds like Eagle is pretty hard to get, eh?

    Of course, in reality 100% of the boys who join Boy Scouting would be earning Eagle. Ten enter each year, and ten Eagle each year. Not hard to get at all.

    Yeh can't take one year's Eagle awards and divide it by all seven years' membership figures. If you do, yeh get nuthin' but mush. Anybody who quotes that silly 2% or 5% figure to show how hard Eagle is to get should be beaten about the head and shoulders with a slide rule.


    • #3
      I'd have no problem if national stuck with the simple math and said "Each year 5.0% of Scouts earn Eagle." But that's not what they say - they talk about the percentage of boys who join Scouts who go on to earn Eagle.

      All you need to calculate this is two numbers - the number of boys who join, and the number who earn Eagle. That's pretty simple too.

      It wouldn't be an exact percentage for 2005 - the Eagles in 2005 didn't come from the boys who joined in 2005 - but both the number of new boys and the number of Eagles are relatively consistent from year to year. And heck, they could get an exact percentage for 1996, say. Of all the boys who joined for the first time in 1996, how many earned Eagle by the time they left?

      Oak Tree


      • #4
        There's no need to speculate on how BSA calculates the percentage. They tell us on their web site that "Not every boy who joins a Boy Scout troop earns the Eagle Scout rank; only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts do so."

        Thus, the denominator they use is boys-that-join-a-troop. That is the pool. It's not how many joined this year, or the current enrollment, or any other number. It doesn't matter how many are in whatever rank, or how long it takes the average boy to earn Eagle.

        Take any 100 boys that join a troop. By the time they quit or age out, 5 will have earned the Eagle rank. Its really very simple.


        • #5
          The only way to get a true percentage is to find the total number of *individual* Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts who have joined. Then add the number of individual Explorers (pre-1998) and Venturers who made First Class and were not dual-registered in a troop or team. This give the total pool that we can divide the 1.7 million Eagles into for a percentage. Until someone can present those membership numbers, we can't get a true sense here.



          • #6
            Right, we can't get the exact percentage without knowing the total number of boys who join in a year (or some other period).

            On the other thread, Miki gives us the number of 221,670 since March of this year, based on numbers from the National Scouting Museum. If that's for eight months, it would suggest a full year number of around 330,000.

            There are 667,000 Webelos IIs. That would suggest that about 330,000 boys would cross over and join Boy Scouts each year.

            There are about 2 million boys born each year in the U.S. How many join Boy Scouts? Maybe 15%? That would be about 300,000 per year.

            How long does an average boy stay in Scouts? Three years? Four years? So take the total membership and divide by three or four to see how many new boys are joining each year. What's that - 250,000 to 330,000?

            So while we don't yet know exactly how many boys join in a year, we can get a pretty good estimate.

            Oak Tree


            • #7
              Take any 100 boys that join a troop. By the time they quit or age out, 5 will have earned the Eagle rank. Its really very simple.

              Yah, sorry FScouter. Like many things that are simple, this is simply wrong. The 5% number does not mean what you think it means, or what your quote says it means. 5% is da number of Eagle Scouts awards earned this year divided by the total membership of Boy Scouting this year - eligible for eagle, not eligible for eagle, or already eagle workin' on a third palm. It's a totally meaningless number.

              If yeh take 300K boys that join a troop each year, and divide that into the 50K Eagles or so each year, you get 17%, not 5%. That's what the real figure is, somewhere up around 15 - 20% or so. So of 100 boys who join, 17 will have earned Eagle by the time they quit or age out.

              I bet that's what most of us see in our troops and districts if we actually bother to look. I know that matches our district. I bet it's more like 25-30% in active troops, actually.


              • #8
                "5% is da number of Eagle Scouts awards earned this year divided by the total membership of Boy Scouting this year - "

                This thread is full of suppositions, "for instance" numbers, and personal opinions. Unless you can point to a reliable source, any opinion of how 5% is calculated is only an opinion. How meaningful or meaningless personal opinions may be is left to the judgment of the reader. Personally, I pay more mind to what BSA says that to personal opinions posted on the internet.


                • #9
                  Total of unique Boy Scouts and Venturers through 2004 = 51,013,554

                  Total Eagles through 2004 = about 1,600,000

                  That makes it at about 3.14%

                  Let's agree upon 3%

                  I hope that this answers the question.


                  • #10

                    A false premise will result in a false result.

                    The question CANNOT be how many EScouts in a year, the question is :

                    "How many Scouts have earned Eagle as a percentage of ALL Scouts that had the potential to earn Eagle?"

                    If a boy does not become a Scout, he cannot become an Eagle. The nascent Tiger CAN earn Eagle, in 8, 9, 10 years ,yes? If the boy 'drops out,' he still was a potential Eagle, and must be included in the consideration. Joins at age 12, drops out to play B-Ball at age 14, still a POTENTIAL Eagle. He was a Scout. But not Female Venturers, or Exporers. Uh-uh.

                    Therefore, the important question is (disregarding how easy or difficult the earning task is) solved thus: Total number of signed-up Scouts (male, from Tiger on up) excluding boys that joined after age 15 (since they can not even theoretically jam everything in to satisfy the published requirements, time wise) since 1910 divided into the total number of Eagle awards given since 1910 will yield the percent of Scouts that have EARNED (there's that word again) the Eagle.

                    Class? Anyone? Yes, you there in the back with his hand up...

                    (This message has been edited by SSScout)


                    • #11
                      1910 - 2005

                      83,486,083 Unique Tigers through Scouts/Venturers

                      about 1,650,000 Eagles

                      = 1.98 %

                      How's 2% sound in this situation? Hmmm, that one sounds familiar...Any other scenarios?


                      • #12
                        Unless you can point to a reliable source, any opinion of how 5% is calculated is only an opinion. How meaningful or meaningless personal opinions may be is left to the judgment of the reader. Personally, I pay more mind to what BSA says that to personal opinions posted on the internet.

                        Yah, well, some of us rely on "reliable sources", and the rest try to stay mentally awake, eh?

                        The BSA says in their annual report for 2005 that there were 943,426 Boy Scouts registered as of December 31, and 49,895 Eagle scout awards earned. Divide and get 5.3%. In 2004 the figures were 988,995 and 50,377 respectively. Divide and get 5.1%. Repeat for prior years, and get around 5%, shrinking slightly as you head back in time.

                        So the 5% figure sure seems to look like da number you get from these official BSA figures, eh? In fact, the numbers have been identical every time I've seen da BSA report them.

                        Now, throw in an interestin' mathematical fact. It is not possible to get the same 5% number for the real percentage of boys who joined who eventually earn eagle, unless the average (mean) tenure of a boy scout in the program is one year. In other words, in an average year, 950,000 boys would have to JOIN Boy Scouting, and 950,000 would have to quit. We would need to be replacin' our entire membership every year if both the BSA annual report and the "5% of boys who join earn eagle" statements were true.

                        Not possible, eh? In fact, since da BSA counts any registration less than a year as a full year for this year-end count, the mean tenure must be greater than a year. Take an average of integers from 1 to 7 and you'll never end up with 1 as the answer.

                        So unless we lose our entire membership every year - every single boy in boy scouts quits - the "5% of the boys who join earn Eagle" figure must be wrong, usin' da BSA's own annual report figures. By the time yeh take out number paddin', the real Eagle percentage is almost certainly above 20% of the boys who join.

                        Yah, but let's not allow the evidence get in the way of what we want to believe, eh? Algebra must just be the personal opinion of one of those durn internet liberals from blue states like Minnesota


                        • #13

                          The numbers went down a lot as you go farther back. In 1981, the 1,000,000th Eagle was given and the cumulative membership was 46,107,939. That makes the percentage 2.17%.

                          It took 71 years to get to 1 mil Eagles. Now you're looking at 30 years after that to do the same. Therefore, a higher percentage of boys TODAY are earning the Eagle. However, the question posed was since 1910... and that number ramains at about 2%.


                          • #14
                            The annual report does not say how many boys joined. One cannot simply plug in some other number and report their calculation is wrong. Tenure, average, annual registration, full year, and less than a year doesn't enter into the very simple calculation (# of Eagles) / (# of boys that joined a troop") = 5%.

                            Is there a statistician in the house?


                            • #15
                              This should really not be that difficult.

                              I'm including all of the UNIQUE bodies that signed up for Scouting in a given time period. That would include those boys that joined for 2 days and those that stayed for 10 years. They are UNIQUE bodies of boys since 1910.

                              That is the gross number that should be considered.