Born in 1943 in Poland, Heinsohn studied sociology, psychology, history, economy, journalism and religion in Berlin, where he obtained his doctorates in social sciences (1974) and economy (1982). Between 1976-78, he lived in Israel. In 1984, he became a tenured professor at the University of Bremen, where he established the Raphael Lemkin Institute for Comparative Genocide Research (1993), which he heads.
Heinsohn's two main research angles are property - from his economic
background, and "youth bulge," a sociological view at population
demographics and violence.
His publishing exceeds 750 titels (37 books to date), among them the praised Eigentum, Zins und Geld (Property, Interest and Money, with Otto Steiger, 1st ed. 1996); and the polemic Söhne und Weltmacht: Terror im Aufstieg und Fall der Nationen (Sons and World Domination: Terror in the Rise and Fall of Nations, 2003) which explores the relation between superfluous but adequately brought up sons with no forth-coming positions or properties, to violent movements in history. The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk had labeled this book it as groundbreaking as Karl Marx's Das Kapital, potentially opening a new field, that of "Demographic Materialism."
A "youth" bulge is a result of rapid population growth. Heinsohns argues that an excess in young adult male population predictably leads to social unrest, war and terrorism. When one third of a nation's male inhabitants are in the 15-29 age bracket, the result is chaos, violence and upheaval, as these "third and fourth sons" find no career opportunities or positions in their societies. Heinsohn claims that most historical periods of social unrest (lacking external triggers) and most genocides can be explained through "youth bulge", including European colonialism, 20th century Fascism, or ongoing conflicts such as Darfur, Palestine and present-day terrorism.
Gunnar Heinsohn is part of the V2_ publication The Politics of the Impure (2010).