The Changing Human Life Cycle

Given the recent focus on demographics, I went back to review a book in my library titled “The Great Demographic Reversal.” In a post that reviewed the book, I mentioned that the authors state several times that their findings are controversial and counter to the views of mainstream economists. By way of review, the authors concluded that the future is one of:

  • Inflation
  • A fall in working age population
  • An aging society that struggles with the ravages of dementia
  • Declining growth of real output
  • An increase in labor’s bargaining power
  • Possible interest rate increases
  • Increased health expenses
  • A reduction in inequality

Several of those projected characteristics of a possible future are currently in play. Whether these are transitory or the new normal suggested by the authors remains to be seen. We have the benefit of history in looking at the various forces that shaped the current global economy.

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The Two Sides Of Population Growth

My last two posts focused on labor shortages and population growth; two critical societal building blocks that converge in ways that shape our future. Continuing with that theme, this recent article looks at these building blocks through the lens of China.

China has edged over a demographic precipice: Its population has begun to shrink. United Nations data published on Monday showed that the long-anticipated tipping point came in the first half of the year; it’s a significant moment for a country whose large population helped transform it into a manufacturing powerhouse

Lili Pike – The end of China’s population boom has arrived. How will the country’s changing demographics shape its future?

According to the referenced United Nations Data, the world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion on 15 November 2022. The report titled World Population Prospects 2022 provides the latest United Nations projections that suggest the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100. Another data point from the U.N. report highlights that population growth is driven in part by declining levels of mortality, as reflected in increased levels of life expectancy at birth. Life expectancy reached 72.8 years globally in 2019, increasing 9 years since 1990. Mortality reductions are projected to result in an average longevity of around 77.2 years globally in 2050

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The Global Decline In Fertility Rates

Societal change is a critical area of convergence that is likely to play a major role in shaping the future. Three building blocks provide an example: declining fertility rates, an aging population, and a fall in working age population. This article connects those dots visually. In looking at the global decline in fertility rates, the article illuminates the impact to global stability, as a given area needs an overall total fertility rate of 2.1 to keep a stable population. But why are women having fewer children? According to Dr. Max Roser, the founder of Our World in Data, most of the literature boils down to three main factors:

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The Great Resignation

We like labels. In this case, our current labor market dynamic has been called “The Great Resignation”. This article explores the current resignation phenomenon, providing great insight into why it is happening. There are several survey results presented via The Conference Board’s latest workforce survey. The high-level theme from the survey is that although it’s a culmination of a multitude of factors, employees are seizing this moment of leverage. But, as the article states, it’s also about workers’ pursuit of flexibility and autonomy.

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Robots Are Constructing a Dam in Japan. Are Buildings Next?

Here is a scenario I expect to see play out increasingly over time:

To address Japan’s rapidly aging workforce and labor shortage, contractor Obayashi Corporation has turned to automation by constructing a dam almost entirely with robots

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Birth Rates, Workers, and Volatility

I wrote about a recent analysis conducted by Bain & Company in an earlier post on the Turbulent 2020s and what it means for the 2030 and beyond. An interesting related exchange on Twitter focused on the impact of birth rates on the core issues of demographics, automation, and growth.

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