What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts?

It could be one of the most-quoted statistics in Scouting: the percentage of Boy Scouts who go on to become Eagle Scouts.

For a while the common response was 4 percent. So common, in fact, that it spawned an awesome book about Eagle Scouts called “Four Percent: The Story of Uncommon Youth in a Century of American Life.”

As the years go by, though, that 4 percent number has become outdated. Which leads to the natural question: What percentage of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts these days?

I’ve got the answer, plus a year-by-year analysis, after the jump. 

2014’s Eagle Scout percentage

In 2014, 6.01 percent of eligible Scouts earned the Eagle Scout award.

That number is a tick down from 2013’s record-high 6.02 percent.

To be clear, that number was calculated this way:

  • The total membership number for Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers (males under 18 years old) in 2014 was 861,898.
  • The number of Eagle Scouts in 2014 was 51,820.
  • 51,820 / 861,898 = 0.0601 (6.01 percent)

Lifetime Eagle Scout percentage

Since the inception of the Eagle Scout award in 1912, 2.01 percent of eligible Scouts have earned Scouting’s highest honor.

So even though the percentage has been trending upward over the years, the award is still incredibly rare.

Here’s a chart (click to enlarge). Find the raw data at the bottom of this post.

Eagle-Scout-percentage-over-time-1912-2014

My two cents

I feel two points need to be made here.

1. An upward trend in the percentage is a good thing.

We should see the increasing percentage of Boy Scouts becoming Eagle Scouts as a positive thing.

More Eagle Scouts means boys are staying in the program longer and it means they’re leaving the program Prepared. For Life.

Consider this: What would the world be like if 100 percent of 18-year-olds were Eagle Scouts? That’s a world I’d want to live in.

2. Earning Eagle Scout isn’t the only way to have a successful Scouting experience.

About 2 percent of Boy Scouts throughout history went on to become Eagle Scouts.

So what about the other 98 percent? They still are better men because of their time in Scouting.

Even if a boy only stays in Scouting for 6, 12, 18 months, he still leaves the program a better man. Scouting changes lives from Day One, so we shouldn’t see earning Eagle Scout as the only judge of whether a boy succeeded in Scouting.

Year-by-year Eagle Scout percentages

Here they are, for all you number-crunchers out there. What was the percentage the year you earned Eagle?

1912 0.04%
1913 0.09%
1914 0.16%
1915 0.07%
1916 0.05%
1917 0.11%
1918 0.07%
1919 0.13%
1920 0.17%
1921 0.33%
1922 0.49%
1923 0.49%
1924 0.60%
1925 0.67%
1926 0.74%
1927 0.96%
1928 1.12%
1929 1.10%
1930 1.28%
1931 1.39%
1932 1.41%
1933 0.99%
1934 1.06%
1935 1.19%
1936 0.99%
1937 1.00%
1938 1.06%
1939 1.12%
1940 1.15%
1941 1.01%
1942 0.88%
1943 0.96%
1944 0.98%
1945 1.01%
1946 1.03%
1947 0.94%
1948 0.79%
1949 1.15%
1950 1.03%
1951 1.09%
1952 1.70%
1953 0.72%
1954 0.79%
1955 0.92%
1956 0.96%
1957 1.05%
1958 0.97%
1959 0.93%
1960 1.10%
1961 1.27%
1962 1.30%
1963 1.32%
1964 1.37%
1965 1.29%
1966 1.25%
1967 1.39%
1968 1.25%
1969 1.40%
1970 1.30%
1971 1.33%
1972 1.21%
1973 1.96%
1974 1.71%
1975 1.10%
1976 1.60%
1977 1.53%
1978 1.46%
1979 1.53%
1980 1.51%
1981 1.56%
1982 1.49%
1983 1.35%
1984 1.36%
1985 1.32%
1986 1.31%
1987 1.34%
1988 1.31%
1989 1.40%
1990 1.41%
1991 2.43%
1992 2.54%
1993 2.48%
1994 2.73%
1995 2.26%
1996 2.65%
1997 2.74%
1998 3.40%
1999 3.87%
2000 3.44%
2001 3.60%
2002 3.72%
2003 3.82%
2004 3.97%
2005 4.18%
2006 4.43%
2007 4.43%
2008 4.46%
2009 4.60%
2010 5.02%
2011 4.55%
2012 5.55%
2013 6.02%
2014 6.01%

Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s numbers guru, Mike LoVecchio, for the stats.