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ABDL Population Estimates

While surveys of AB/DLs might teach us a great deal, they won't directly provide us with one value; the size of the AB/DL population. Directly measuring it would require a large survey of the general population. Such a census would need responses from those who were willing to discuss such an intimate matter, but also those who were not willing. Short of such a survey, the population can only be extrapolated based on the size of particular AB/DL communities.

The following extrapolation is notable due to its age. This has a benefit in addition to priority: Before the numerous Internet communities became established, the AB/DLs were concentrated in a smaller number of forums. Enfant Mel's result, that on the order of magnitude of 1 in 1,000 people in the US is an AB/DL, seems to have endured.

By Enfant Mel

I've posted the estimate (if that's not too strong a word for it) on BBIF and in a few other forums over the years. I can give you a summary of my so-called "methodology."

Basically, sometime around 1993-4, I saw a DPF publication in which Tommy claimed there had been over 8,000 members of DPF since it was founded. So I started asking around, everyone I met on IRC infantilism channels and on BBIF, whether they had ever joined DPF. I don't remember now how many people I asked--in the neighborhood of 100, I believe. Most of them lived in the US, as did most of the DPF membership. But only a half dozen or so had ever joined DPF.

That's a pretty small sample to draw any conclusion from at all, and it's also a weirdly-selected sample, but I ran with it, and figured that if DPF members constituted 5% of the infantilist population in the geographic area from which it drew its membership--that is to say, the US--that would imply there were around 160,000 AB's in the US, or one person out of 2000.

But then I reflected further that I was only polling infantilists who were joining infantilist discussion forums and chat rooms online, which pre-selected for people who were active and open and aware of the fact that they weren't alone in the world, people with the wherewithal and inquisitive nature needed to seek out the community. They were also mostly people who really identified as infantilists, as opposed to just being polymorphously kinky people who put a little diaper play into the mix once in a while. It seemed likely to me that there were lot more infantilists who fantasized furtively but didn't act it out, or who were only mildly into it, or who were extremely into it but still thought they were the only ones. So the online population of infantilists, I figured, would probably be more likely to have joined DPF than infantilists in general. (I could be totally wrong about that, of course; they might be less likely to join, specifically because they had found other resources online that satisfied them... but at the time, that didn't seem realistic to me, because what was online in 1993 was pretty feeble compared to DPF).

So, in light of the possibility that DPF members were overrepresented in my sample, I added a fudge factor to my estimate--doubled it--and figured that correct figure might be 300,000 infantilists in the US, or about 0.1%.

At around the same time, the alt.sex.fetish.diapers newsgroup got started, and after a few months it started to pick up significant traffic. Something like 6-9 months after that, USENET started filling up with spam, and A.S.F.D became useless. But in the meantime, there was a program called 'arbitron' that estimated the number of readers each newsgroup had, and A.S.F.D did surprisingly well in the rankings, peaking at over 25,000 if I recall correctly.

I reckon some people were reading the group simply because it had the word "sex" in the title, or because they thought the diaper freaks were funny, but probably a lot of them really did have some interest in the kink. I don't recall how many people in those days had USENET access, but it was a small minority of the US. For us to draw 25,0000 readers from a population that small suggested to me once again that 1 in 1000 was, very roughly, the right order of magnitude.

Now, this is all very unscientific, of course. I've never claimed to have high confidence in any of these numbers. All I was trying to do was bracket a range that seemed realistic. To say that the proportion is on the order of 1 in 1,000 means, in statistical language, 'I would be surprised if it were as high as 1 in 100, and I would also be surprised if it were as low as 1 in 10,000'.

In the years since, I've seen other things that have reinforced the sense that I was roughly correct. Aby.com, for example, used to have a feature that let you search for other members by their location. My home town, with a population of 60,000, had 9 aby.com members. Is it plausible that every AB in town joined this one website? I don't think so... but if it were so, that would mean one AB per 6,666 population--which fits in the bracket I described above. However, considering that most of the local aby.com members were in their 20s or early 30s and gay, it seemed very likely to me that there were quite a few more of us--particularly people in other age and orientation cohorts--who hadn't joined the site. The real number might be 20, or 50, or 100, or 200, I have no idea at all. But again, 1 in 1,000 starts to seem like a pretty realistic guess... because that would put the number at 60.

Do you have Questions, tips, suggestions, or other feedback?

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