by Jennifer D. Sciubba
While political, economic, and technological shifts can be difficult to predict, demographics data doesn’t lie. Within the next 10 years, more than 60 countries will have a median age over 35, and in 25 of those countries, half the population will be over 45. The aging of the global population is all but inevitable — but how it affects businesses will depend on what leaders do today. In this piece, political demographer Jennifer D. Sciubba explores the implications of this shift for businesses and policymakers, including its impact on workforces, customer bases, retirement expectations, and more. Ultimately, she argues that to adapt to our aging populations, global leaders must acknowledge the reality that’s evident today, understand which factors are certain and which can be influenced, and proactively invest in shaping the future.
According to the latest UN reports, two-thirds of the global population live in countries with below-replacement fertility rates, while average lifespans continue to grow. This means that many populations are rapidly aging, and will soon begin to shrink (if they haven’t already). At the start of this century, 32 countries had a median age above 35 years. By the end of this decade, that number will more than double. And in 25 of those countries, half the population will be more than 45 years old.