Megatrend 1: Aging populations


The world is getting older.

The current human population is larger and older than any other time in history. In 1950, the median age was a sprightly 23 (half of the population was younger than 23, half was older). Today, it is 30, and by the end of the century it will be 42.

Now many 42 year-olds would argue that they are in the prime of their life, but this change will have far-reaching consequences for our society and our politics.

And the aging is not happening uniformly. By 2020, 13 countries will have “super-aged populations” with more than one in five citizens over 65. By 2030, Britain and the US will join them.

What will this mean for businesses?

As the working age population shrinks, more people of retirement age will be needed to stay in work. However, this work may have to be part-time because, according to the Office of National Statistics, one in four older female workers and one in eight older male workers have caring responsibilities.

There will be growth in the strength of the ‘silver pound’ with a bigger market for goods and services linked to the elderly.

It could also mean higher taxes due to the increased strain on the state through pensions and health care. It is worth noting that although life expectancy is increasing, the number of healthy years we can expect is not growing as fast. This means an increasingly frail population.

Questions for business leaders to think about

  • How possible are flexible working hours in my business?
  • Do I rely heavily on younger employees?
  • How can I build an inclusive culture for a multigenerational workforce?
  • What goods and services appeal to the growing older market?

Further Reading

The future is now: the new context of leadership (Lane4 white paper)

Future of an Aging Population (UK Government Report)

Interactive world map of aging populations (CNN)

Democracy for Young People (Talking Politics podcast)


Click here to learn about the other 13 megatrends.

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