Demographic changes dictate future: 65+ age group will dominate for decades

In “After Seven Billion,” by Neil Howe (1/15/12 New Geography) it is debunked that the 21st century will see the “population bomb” that was predicted by Malthus and Paul Ehrlich.  Turns out the trends that they based their predictions on were temporary and that birthrates are declining.  Birthrates are falling in the U.S. but even more dramatically in Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union.  Japan is experiencing “depopulation” as it is now in its fourth year of negative population growth.  Howe says that the global birth dearth is “that the traditional motivations for childbearing are no longer as strong in modernizing societies.  Children used to be an economic asset to their parents, …now children are an avoidable and increasingly expensive liability.”  This zero growth trend will greatly affect the global economy including creating labor shortages, reduced consumer demand, less risk taking and entrepreneurism, and less immigration.  On the bright side, businesses that lead on providing products and services to older consumers who are living longer will prosper, especially if they “understand how tomorrow’s generation of seniors will have different needs, means and preferences than seniors in the past.”  Grasping that the 65+ population “will be the fastest growing demographic group in most countries for decades to come” is critical.  Says Howe, “People who understand how global aging and generational change intersect will do quite well in the world that’s coming, whether they are politicians, inventors of new technology, or creators of culture.”

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