In Trend 1 of our Trend Compendium, Roland Berger is dealing with the basis of all other megatrends: population and society. The study considers various aspects of population development and migration, as well as values and education, the core elements of the development of modern societies.
Population: There will be more of us, older, and more urban – but dynamics are very different worldwide
Declining birth rates in developing countries entail that global population growth will slow slightly by 2050 compared to previous decades. Nevertheless, the world's population continues to grow strongly. By 2050, at 9.7 billion, almost 2 billion more people will live on Earth than today. This growth is primarily taking place in developing countries. Overall, the population in industrialized countries will hardly increase by 2050, but there are countries such as the US, the UK, or France that are growing, and other countries, such as Japan and Germany, whose populations are declining.
Migration: people migrate within and between countries – voluntarily and forced
Currently, more than 320 million people worldwide live in countries that are not their country of origin or have given up their usual place of residence within their own country. Many international migrants are looking for work or education in countries to which they emigrate. Wealthier nations in Europe and North America are attractive destinations. Other people are fleeing persecution, war or natural disasters. Almost three-quarters of these seek protection in neighboring countries of their homelands.
Values: A complex issue in our increasingly diverse societies – but fundamental to our coexistence
A commonality amongst modern societies is their orientation along values. At the same time, modern societies are increasingly complex. This leads to growing challenges vis-à-vis a value consensus and adherence of formal and informal norms. The UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 represent a milestone in efforts to advance global development on value-based principles. At their core, they postulate a shared vision of sustainable existence and co-existence for all human beings.
An important aspect is gender equality. A great deal of catching up is still necessary regarding the participation of women in management positions in business as well as in leading positions in politics. Over the last two decades, the share of women in managerial positions – in companies and administration – has increased globally across all levels from 25% to only 28%. In national parliaments, the share of women rose from 11% in 1995 to 25% in 2020 but it is the developed countries that are trailing behind in increasing the proportion of women.
Education: More and more people are getting access to good education – the key to social advancement as well as economic growth
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the temporary closure of schools around the world, causing a great many number of school days being lost. However, in the medium and long term, the trend towards ever better schooling will continue worldwide. Crucially, the length of schooling correlates with a country's economic wealth – a clear indication that investment in education pays off. India is showing a particularly strong dynamic by 2050 and will almost double the number of students within the 30-34-year-old group to more than 38 million compared to 2020.
How companies can take advantage of megatrends
The strong population growth of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America makes these markets attractive to companies looking for new sales opportunities. This is particularly true for companies in developed countries where society is ageing more rapidly and where there is an impending shortage of labor. It is important for companies to adapt to the needs of older customers, but also to those of an aging workforce. By hiring skilled migrants, companies can overcome domestic labor market shortages. For this, it is necessary to position yourself internationally as an attractive employer.
Christian Krys, Senior Expert
David Born, Manager