# Third World Countries societies created and populated only by young people

Related, and in continuation to How would societies be if created and populated only by young people? In the previous question I asked about society as it would exist in western/first world countries after an apocalyptic event.

This question on the other hand will focus on the impact to third world countries

## Background

• A leak of nanomachines led to the death of all people over the age of 21.
• Nanomachines are present in the bodies of the survivors, and prevents their growth once they reach the twenty-first year.
• Because the atmosphere is saturated with these nano machines, every newborn absorbs them
• Survivors are not immortal. They could still die of diseases and death from old age is because of the deterioration of brain cells.

The problem is basically the same: How would societies in these areas be structured?

Geographically I would like to focus on Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

EDIT - Physical growth stops, but the mental growth is another matter. The survivors do not suffer biological damage from nanomachines. They can accumulate more knowledge and memories, but the psychology and behavior will essentially remain the same that they have at the age of 21.

• Look into real history. Start with Zambia, for example. When Zambia gained independence, the oldest educated people to run country were in their twenties... – Pavel Janicek Jan 6 '15 at 14:39
• @PavelJanicek I'm starting to see, but there is one thing to consider: the Zambia was a country. Just one. It could receive external aid. But, imagine the entire world in those conditions. Or, even worse imagine that the world will become like Somalia. – Yaniv Jan 6 '15 at 14:42
• Yaniv I feel like there is a good question in here but it is very difficult to sort through all the content here and the question you are trying to get to is unclear. If you could reorganize this a bit I think it would help a lot. – James Jan 6 '15 at 14:47
• @James What could I improve to make the question more clear? – Yaniv Jan 6 '15 at 14:48
• The back ground information about first world countries at the beginning doesn't seem relevant to the question so I would remove that. Also the other information section at the bottom seems kind of random and at points repetitive. I can take a shot at editing it if you would like. – James Jan 6 '15 at 14:52

I live in Brazil and based on how things are here I would like to present my perspective from such event.

# Slave Farms:

Why? Because of gang wars/rampant crime - both expanding to rural areas and forming closed communities.

I really think that society would fall apart. The bad guys have weapons since they were children and it's not common for a citizen to own weapons in Brazil. That is, unless he works as a security guard / police officer. But the ones at that age are dead.

Bad guys have the advantage, weapons access and experience handling them. They would exploit the urban territory for food and entertainment until the first of those resources starts to become scarce.

Any good hearted people who decided to form a rural community or even an urban community would be constantly raided.

So, in the end, as I see it, the bad guys would eventually move to rural areas, where they would charge a fee (food) for not raiding a community, or they would simply enslave other young people to work in farms. Works best if they run raids to capture sons and daughters of farmers, or any other young person with experience working with agriculture.

One of the main reasons to actually move to rural areas is that no one knows how to run the power grid/water systems, sewers, etc. So, basically, going rural is the thing to do. Easier to send someone get water from a river/stream than trying to figure out how a water treatment facility works.

Also, because I really think criminals would have the upper hand, they probably wouldn't be much interested in learning anything is they can just order someone to fetch water, work on the fields.

# New Edit

Going rural seems to me as the only reasonable way people could keep on surviving after the initial raids. Making too much raids mean the depletion of resources in a certain area. Soon the raids distance from the central point will increase more and more, making them even more dangerous and diminishing the power of the group over those scouts. If they find a nice cache of resources, why not have it for themselves? Also, new resources need to be produced, therefore people will seek the place those resources are stored, and eventually, where they're cultivated. Capturing farm workers and using them seems to me as the best option, and the only one that ensures future survival on a long term basis.

Famine would happen a lot, and probably many farms could be raided by huge mobs of roving people looking for food, until they die of starvation or adopt cannibalism as an option.

Another thing. I think a system would be created to identify the oldest among those near immortal young ones. Maybe amount of tattoos, or some other markings, something to identify the leaders in a group.

# Extra - Religious Breakdown

Religion is big in Brazil. Many people follow evangelic preachers that are openly running a big scam. Yet they still believe in such figures of power.

Many people would believe this to be a punishment from God, the heavens, etc. Some preachers (they start training as teens) could build communities solely based on how they should act to be forgiven. Criminals have respect/fears of such leaders and that could be the base for a military/religious state ruled by preachers and criminals.

Obviously not everyone will suffer this religious impact, but those uneducated/poor will mostly believe it to be a divine punishment.

# Extra - What could a graphic designer do?

Also, many young people don't have knowledge suited to this new world. What could a graphic designer do? He will have to take arms, or plow fields...

People with practical knowledge would be favored, and get important positions inside a community. One example: Here in Brazil we don't hunt as people do in the US. So, what does it matter that an urban kid knows about books, videogames or has visited other countries?

# Extra - Psychological war - Criminals win

I added this because I figure it to be really important. Many people like to believe that they would fight for their lives against a home invader, or even a robber in the streets, when in reality people freeze.

Criminals, even young, can perform cruelties and have no regard for the lives of enemies. As an example, 2 girls (13/15) where approached by a few teens and taken to a house in an alley where they were gang raped (last week). Later, more young teens came to the house and raped them too. It was a total of 10 young men, most under 18. And now both girls hear shots daily near their houses because they reported this to the police. They identified 5 of them, and the remaining ones are trying to put fear on them to not give up anyone else to the police.

Young criminals fight endless wars for drug distribution and area control, and this happens daily here. They have the nerve for it, they are able to endure such situations of continuous lack of security/imminent danger.

So, common people wouldn't stand a chance against a group of such individuals attacking their homes, some would just break down, beg, try to bargain...

• Excellent points from someone in Third world - even in Brazil is officially a notch above that, BRIC countries are aspiring developed. Yes, it would be bad, and maybe young soldiers are less prepared to lead, and experience how equitable society should work is not ingrained too deep. But that is what I predicted in my answer: such communities will degrade into feudalism/slavery, not able to advance technologically much. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jan 9 '15 at 0:58
• And another good point about tattoos to mark the age group - because aging would stop, somehow rank needs to be maintained. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jan 9 '15 at 1:47

First I want to define the nations we are looking at.

The term Third World is actually a carry over from the Cold War, where:

• NATO and its allies were the First World
• Russia and its allies were the Second World
• All non-aligned nations were considered Third World. Included in the list of third world nations is both Switzerland and Somalia

So, Third World is a pretty obsolete reference but the usage you are applying is not at all uncommon.

More accurately you are looking at developing or least developed nations.

The least developed nations map doesn't leave us a whole lot to work with. Mainly Africa and a small portion of SE Asia.

This map on the other hand breaks the world into four sections bases on the HDI (Human Development Index) and should serve well. (All images are from the wikipedia sites linked above)

So If we look at only the two lightest shades of blue that gives us:

• Parts of Central and South America
• Most of Africa and the Middle East
• Most of SE Asia

So there are some things these regions have in common.

• Generally Warmer/Tropical
• Limited or Reduced access to technology (Less integrated into daily life)
• Economic and Government instability
• Average population age is lower than in developed countries

Some impacts will be similar globally

• Initial deaths of 21+ folks will lead to massive amounts of follow on death
• Agriculture is impacted leading to starvation, no global food support means entire populations die or are displaced.
• Collapse of communication networks reduces the functional control to more localized government
• Some developed nations may stay in-tact but less developed nations tend to have weaker governments and would fall apart and have warlords
• Bungee Jumping and Bicycling accidents (no helmets) cause thousands of death with no parents around. I couldn't help myself...

Lets break down some specifics by region: I am not going to get into crazy specifics just some general ideas for each area.

Africa:

• About the same really. Of all regions Africa will be the least impacted it has a younger average age, higher birth rate and less technology.

Middle East:

• The developed regimes in the Middle East tend to be very dependent on Weapons and Surveillance technology. These nations will probably undergo revolution in some form or another when they are no longer able to effectively communicate and enforce their dictatorships. As un-assisted travel is particularly difficult in the desert they break into smaller enclaves. Resources will be a major issue as Water will be scarce with decay of desalination plants. Most likely there will be a lot of death and/or mass emigration.

Americas:

• The drug trade flourishes as drug cartels take over governance of their territories as the state cannot control them. Ironically the drug trade slowly dies up and they become legitimate local authorities.

SE Asia:

• Lots and lots of people, lots and lots of dead people. Disease runs rampant. Society completely collapses.

Society in General:

• It will be set back, more or less depending both on how many and how much is lost as well as how effectively people respond after the fact.
• Society will be broken down into smaller groups that it is today. Not just because of the population loss but because without modern communications governing larger areas is significantly more difficult. People will start identifying with more local groups, races, locations, etc than with the WWW for example.
• In general it makes the world smaller for people. In the case of people living in third world nations that tends to be the case anyway. Travel is difficult, technology is scarce, so things would likely change very little with the exception of a reduction, if not complete elimination of foreign influence (and support).
• Asia has many young people employed in agriculture, and the dead bodies after a month maximum decompose due to the nanomachines. This change anything? – Yaniv Jan 8 '15 at 22:36
• @Yaniv more rapid decay may keep more people in cities but even without the stench of decaying corpses they will still be morbid wastelands that no longer have the trade infrastructure to keep people fed and clothed etc. The areas with more young people that know agriculture should generally be better off (that is not to say a warlord won't take over) – James Jan 9 '15 at 14:37
• @Yaniv if you want more specifics choose a particular country and I can see what sort of plausible scenario I can give you. – James Jan 9 '15 at 14:45
• Please, can you focus more on Indochina and Middle East? – Yaniv Jan 11 '15 at 0:25
• @Yaniv that would make for a great, more specific, follow on question I think. – James Jan 12 '15 at 20:52

You need to distinguish categories of third-world nations (I use nations, based on common language, not countries based on borders drafted by colonial powers for political reasons):

• Tribes surviving in marginal conditions on marginal lands (Tibet, Andes, rainforest, New Guinea, polar areas): even if 15 year old is passable hunter, there might be needed more time to get experience to deal with rare situation (water holes during dry season, drying enough fish to last winter, etc). This last strike will topple those societies over: not immediately, but within few years, unless enough better, more productive land nearby will vacate and they can move there. But with most humans extinct, hunting should improve in few years, so if they will survive past the hump, they will be OK.
• Societies living in productive agricultural areas, but with technologies a bit obsolete (Thailand, Peru, Cuba, equatorial Africa, most of Brazil, India and China - BRIC): with more margin of error, survivors would learn by trial/error. Will not be able to advance technologically much.
• Countries in less productive agriculture (importing lots of food now and exporting raw materials) (like Saudi Arabia, Iran): would be worst hit. Will survive (around military/police campuses) but will have hardest time to establish productive agriculture and rebuild technology.

Areas with complicated geopolitics, no traditions of religious freedoms and history of centuries of wars (India/Pakistan, Sunni/Shiite divide in Muslim countries, Africa) may plunge to civil/religious wars if some charismatic leader decides (after a decade of recovery) to establish own kingdom. Building traditions supporting stable democratic society takes long time, and nanomachines wiped out exactly the part of population which learned the lesson.

So none of the third-world areas would be able to recover technology fast enough to compete with recovering developed countries (within a century or so). Main reason would be lack of traditions of equitable society (faster route to warlords), and smaller repositories (libraries) of knowledge to rebuild lost know-how.

• 21 is pretty old for marginal hunter/gatherer types. Many have multiple kids and are (and have been) full adults for 7+ years. Maybe not "elders", but old enough. Yes, the shaman/elder knowledge will be lost by inattentive tribes, who didn't have young apprentices - ie: kids lured away by cells, TV and big city life. – user3082 Jan 8 '15 at 14:54
• That's what I said. Such tribes will retain most of basic know-how needed, but because surviving is on marginal productivity, even small disaster might be too big for such tribe. I added few year hump to survival. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jan 8 '15 at 15:11
• Detailed as usual :) Just a question on the areas with complicated geopolitics. Assuming that most of the young employed by militiamen, religious fundamentalists, etc. has been brainwashed with propaganda, most of the survivors would not abhor war? That is, it is possible that young who have lost everything because of a war waged by adults, after the cause of the war dead, decide to resume it? And then, are not already present examples of guys who go against the radicalization of their own culture? (as Malala Yousafi and others) – Yaniv Jan 8 '15 at 22:43
• Child soldiers IMHO would be like gangs - with bit better weapons but equally without the idea how to run community on long-term basis. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jan 9 '15 at 0:43

Most of (sub-Saharan) Africa I think wouldn't be affected nearly as much. The old would be dead. Likely for many areas little warlords would take over and rule areas with an iron fist. Other areas, the more rural ones would likely just morn their dead and go on with their lives, maybe glad that the outside world is leaving them alone.

India would have a little breathing room, currently %50 of the Indian population is 25 or less, so they would likely have the largest surviving population in the world. Granted they would also have the largest number of dead as well. So with 900,000,000 dead, the first problem would be sanitation and safety. Likely the cities would be abandoned, once they start moving they might migrate around to other countries. China would lose about %80 of it's population and also have the problem of high number of bodies and no one to take care of them.

In all the countries children under 3 would likely die as well unless one of their parents was under 21 or their older siblings were able to take care of them.

• you raise an interesting point - are the bodies of the dead adults left lying around, or do they disappear? it makes a big difference either way – roryok Jan 6 '15 at 15:01
• @roryok Unless the nanobots 'dissolve' the bodies who is going to make them disappear? Teenagers? Especially if it all happens in just a couple weeks. – bowlturner Jan 6 '15 at 15:17
• The decomposition of corpses is fast (1 month maximum) but adults die because their tissues are eaten by nanomachines . However for some time there will be corpses everywhere. – Yaniv Jan 6 '15 at 15:53
• Yup, leaving dead bodies around will get you into all kinds of trouble with disease and vermin. As well as the stink/psychological problems. OP is going to handwave it with nanodissolvers. – user3082 Jan 8 '15 at 14:58

The societies created would be completely and utterly dependent on the artifacts of your particular methodology for limiting the mental age of the individuals. It is impossible to say what would happen to society without knowing those details. One of the major things society accomplishes is that it raises the next generation. Some philosophers argue that is the purpose for society. We cannot figure out what society would look like until we understand what other factors affect the "raising" of the next generation. Otherwise, it's like trying to figure out where hockey players will go in a hockey game without considering the puck. Wayne Gretzky is famously quoted, "I never go where the puck is, I go where the puck will be.

In this answer, I will provide three answers, differing in how the 21-year limit is implemented. Two are simple and short. The third is more interesting.

For all three options, the initial effect is the same, because society will be dominated by the sudden inexplicable death of the vast majority of their population, rather than by the longer term aging effects. Fortunately for the third world countries, they will be less brutally affected by this than their first world brethren:

• There are more sustenance farmers in 3rd world areas. This means they will likely be able to grow their own food to survive.
• Their societies are less dependent on knowledge or wisdom that is gathered at an older age for survival. In particular, every farmer knows how to farm reasonably well by the time they're 18.
• They are used to inexplicable things happening. While first world citizens are frightened and wracking their brains for answers as to what happens, the third would nations are less likely to have panic issues.

There will be a tremendous amount of power struggle. All of those in power will have died, and in some places you won't even have anyone alive who remembers what peace felt like. In those areas, dozens of small time warlords will crop up and compete. They may even accidentally annihilate their own culture.

And now for the long term effects. All of these are dominated by society trying to work their way around the newfound limitations of 21-year old minds.

Option 1: No new information can be assimilated into the mind after the 21st birthday besides short-term memory.

Relationships falter at 21 years old, because nobody can remember each other after that. This will be very similar to dealing with Alzheimers or Dementia. Few would live past 25, because the strain of not really knowing what is going on would be so intense.

Nobody would live past 21 by choice. Very quickly the under 21 crowd would figure out the nanobot's rules, and choose to die with honor before the effects of the nanobots can crush them. As a result, there is a very strong desire to go out with a bang. People will be taught to go full-speed ahead at all times, trying to get as big as possible before doing something incredible at the end of their life.

As secondary effects, society would develop around how to support a large number of individuals running without stops. Well defined channels for how to live one's life would form, such as Warrior paths, Scholar paths, Politican paths, and so forth. Each one would accelerate an individual to their maximum potential before letting them go and seeing what they accomplish in the last few years of their life.

Option 2: New book-smarts knowledge (intellect) can be assimilated after the 21st birthday, but no new street-smarts (wisdom) can accrue.

Knowledge is power. We are usually entrusted with knowledge as we show the wisdom that we can use it wisely. Individuals could easily accrue 2-3x more knowledge than they have wisdom to temper. As a result, a large number of individuals would meet their demise by trying to wield more knowledge than they could handle. Consider someone who dedicates their life to the sword, and can gather the knowledge of a 60 year old Katana master, but has the temper of a 21 year old.

Society would quickly learn how this works. There would be a goal to gather as much knowledge as possible, and then become as calm and passive as possible. A common pattern would be for men to join a monastery before the age of 21, learning to cultivate their inner calm. That way, once they hit 21, they could continue to positively affect society without needing to collect more knowledge without end. Like in option 1: there would be a preference for suicide over losing control of one's self after the age of 21. Unlike option 1, this would probably occur closer to 30 or 40, when one's inner calm is simply no longer enough.

Society would quickly form around religion. Children would have to be taught the wisdom of completing the bright portion of their lives before 21, and not waiting until 21 to start the dimmer portion of quiet contemplation. A 21 year old who never meditated will find they can never meditate, and will have troubles like in option 1. Religion is the easiest way to generate these "bigger than yourself" behaviors.

Option 3: The nanobots seek to preserve the 21-year limit with immaculate precision. Whenever someone learns something new after their 21st birthday, the nanomachines re-simulate the last 21 years, and find a way to create a consistent world where it appears the individual was born exactly 21 years ago, rather than his or her actual birth date. This could involve rewriting the memories of other individuals, as they would have interacted with eachother in new ways. New relationships would be struck, new complications would occur. Regardless, when the nanobots were done, a consistent worldview of all people will create the illusion that nobody was born more than 21 years ago.

This one is interesting because it creates an interesting dynamic for the living. There will be a glut of individuals apparently born 21 years ago, and a spattering of younglings. This will create a very strong bipolar culture. This could take the form of benevolent older siblings trying to bring their younger siblings up to the wave of 21 year olds. It could also take a repressive form of older siblings trying to make sure they are not crowded out by the new ones growing up.

Likely cultures would flicker back and forth between these extremes. Society would form to mitigate the flickering, to try to find balance. There would be attempts at population control to ensure a "correct" number of 21-year olds. Young individuals would quickly be taught to be cute and nonthreatening, in order to survive to the age of 21.

Interesting secondary effects would form around the nanobot's attempts to rebuild histories to be consistent. There would be a clear flavor to it, nanobot's preferences towards easy ways to make things consistent. Every now and then, nanobots might make a mistake. Eventually culture would realize that it is embedded in this fabric.

Lovers would be highly passionate in this world for two reasons. First, each embrace may be their last as anyone's learning may suddenly overwrite their entire relationship to maintain consistency. Second, separating a pair of closely entwined lovers would be harder for the nanobots. They would prefer to leave the lovers intact, because its easier than untangling them.

Physical marks of affection would gain popularity. It is much easier for nanobots to rewrite memories than it is to undo a physical marking. A common ritual might be to etch a line in one's wedding ring every year a couple is together. A couple may reminisce, looking back at a wedding ring whose marks shows they've been together from the age of 15 to well into their 30s, even though both of them swear its only been 7 years. Love would truly conquer all.

• @Yaniv: I promised you one answer. I decided to give 3, to show the diversity of cultures that can arise from your rules. – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Jan 9 '15 at 4:25
• I think you're hung up on condition 2, which I think Yaniv didn't write what he meant correctly. Going to comment on his post. – user3082 Jan 9 '15 at 7:46
• I apologize to you for being unkind to you, but I took for granted the mental growth of the survivors. That's another reason why this site is fantastic. The second option is theclosest to my world is , but the third've raised a good point. Namely, that the nanobots are not passive, but have an effect even after the apocalypse. I will edit the question with more information, taking information from your reply. – Yaniv Jan 9 '15 at 10:45

You're going to have an economic meltdown.

And very likely, technological too. (some from that breakdown in world trade)

A lot of knowledge and skill is locked up in older people's brains. Some just takes a long time to learn. How many doctors under 21 do you know, for example? Most math people take until post-grad to start doing anything novel.

How many oil supercargo tankers are run by captains under 21? Or, how about just crew? Train engineers? 747 pilots? And yeah, if you're a small-plane pilot you may think you could run a bigger plane... but you'd be wrong - how many of those kids are going to put themselves through training first? Who's going to train them? Semi-truck drivers in 3rd world countries may actually be doing better than in 1st world countries. That's just moving the things that need to get moved so 3rd world countries don't implode. Gasoline is major, so is food, and water. Much less tools and materials.

The problem with technology is that if we stop doing some of it, we may be unable to pick it up again. If you quit pumping oil and processing it into gas, you may be unable to move big enough ships offshore to plant oil-rigs to pump the only remaining stuff available. If you don't have enough power to run the pumps, you can't get it up out of the ground. Etc.

Your kids are going to have to get it right, and get it right quick if they want any type of non-19th century technology. Most of the ore deposits left are deep, far/hard-to-reach and low quality. On the plus side, there is actually some child-labor in 3rd world countries, so they may have a clue for some of those things.

Much less keeping the networks up and running. Kiss your cellphones goodbye.

And won't that put a lot of hurt on 1st world teens. As well as 3rd world. Uptake of cellphones is pretty huge in 3rd world, since it's easier to put up towers than to run cable/fiber/copper. If there are no replacement parts, if there is no gas coming in to run the generators for these places (no power grids) - kiss all of that goodbye.

A lot of Africa is youth already, due to AIDs, etc.

Rampant warlordism. won't take a decade. Kids are being used to fight civil wars, they'll take their guns and keep on doing what they're doing. For places that're not in trouble now, kids will pick up existing armories / police weapons, and... there ya go. All the power, none of the experience, and all the youthful foibles and hormones. How many of them bothered to listen to their elders? What're the chances of them getting things right the first time? If it were easy, there wouldn't be so much trouble in the world right now.

If you look at the distribution of the global population you can see that about 75% of the population would be wiped out. This would include 90% of the ownership rights within the population,

so what would you be left with:

lots of short term resources (food, fuel, land) I think, once the youth have dealt with the deceased population, they will take to theft of stocks (stockpiling) which will actually. depending on the level of society this will happen in two ways.

1. War torn Countries: These countries (most of central Africa), Lebanon, Gaza strip and the like) are brought up with war, children understand fighting and will resort to violent methods. they will end up with fighting factions whereby small micro colonies are established. Chances are, there will be a complete economic melt down in these countries and they will literally enter the dark ages for a decade or so.
2. First World Countries: There will be a lot of rioting and violence, however most of the educated youth will be more afraid than anything else, The critical component of success in this domain is actually communication - Provided that there is a period of "hybernation" (i.e. initial stockpiling then lock yourself away in the home) a small group of "elders" would do well to develop a plan to provide basic short term needs (in this case it would mostly be power and comms and distribution of food and water)

Initially the only comms which would be viable would be radio, this would require the setup of radio distribution points (handout of cellphones with radio, as well as radios, batteries and generator and solar charging stations) once this is established more coordinated efforts can be setup to restructure society to some degree.

A Flourishing economy in this case would probably, at its best be one whereby farming, forestry, fishing, energy and sanitation is operational. this could not happen at the economies of scale which most plants are currently geared to. however, it will not take long for groups to become somewhat functional. The greater effect will be the loss of education which will be lost to the youth we will essentially run the course of WW1 again.

I guess you are looking to see if we will end up with some type of cultural equilibrium that moves forward faster and more consistently.

A 21 year old knows too little about the world to have firm believes (i.e. the opposite of you cant teach an old dog new tricks). After a generation of 21 year old - now in the second generation - we would have dynamic culture based on current progress not based on old traditions.

This may lead to a much higher rate of equal believes, as unique believes have little time to manifest themselves as strong narratives. If it isnt 100% practical ideas and believes may not survive because the people who have them wont have much time to publicize them.

On the flip side:

Most wisepeople are over 21 - there will be little room for idealism or experimental philosophies. We will be stuck in practical society that doesnt have room for evolution. There will be more peacefulness and more cohesiveness as fundamental believe systems have little opportunity to establish themselves, but at the same time, society would not progress and there would be little change.