For the first time in 65 years, the word’s working population is declining. Most of my life, global overpopulation was a concern. We are now at a point where it is the opposite, at least in regards to the workforce and consumerism.
What does that mean? Globally, we will have, and are predicted to have, for some time, too few workers and customers.
Most countries are aging due to lower fertility rates and longevity. The majority of the population in most countries soon will be middle to late age. As a population ages, so does their needs. Focus shifts to services rather than durable goods. We tend to save more and spend less with age. The elderly need more medical care and pharmaceuticals than household products, cars, and luxury homes. Companies that market to teens and younger adults diminish, while others such as pharmaceutical companies, grow under these circumstances.
The economy no longer will need as many employees. And yet, finding the right employee in some positions and also to replace those retiring will be increasingly more difficult. Young entries will not have the necessary experience. And companies also will be more challenged to meet pensions, as so many of their previous employees will be retired.
In 2050, India will be the most populous country with Nigeria and Indonesia close behind. However, overall, they will continue to be in the lower-income category. In fact, low-income countries will make up 14% of the world population in 2050 as opposed to today’s 9%. Recruiting from these countries may be an option.
To increase the numbers of future employees, this past October China eliminated their one-child policy. Countries including Singapore, Australia, and Canada’s Quebec are encouraging cash grants to encourage bigger families and more generous child support for working mothers in the hopes of boosting the desire for more children. Robots also will fill in to increase productivity.
Worldwide, we will have to update our perception of aging to allow the experienced senior employees to remain in the field. We are healthier than our counterparts even a decade ago. There will be more reasons to continue working than not, and therefore some accommodations will be necessary. Businesses will have to adapt the workplace to the joint and vision needs of their older employees.
©2015, Mary K. Doyle