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What to Expect in an Eight Billion World?

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By the end of 2024, the world is projected to add 500 million people to reach a global population of eight billion. Population growth has been an important contributor to economic growth, as more people will produce and consume more stuff. But it also imposes huge challenges for every economy, business and individual to ensure both well-being and environmental sustainability. Here are some insights into what we expect to come as our planet reaches eight billion people.

Mexico will overtake Japan to become the 10th largest population

Global population growth will be driven mostly by population expansion in Africa and Asia Pacific, though fertility rates in both regions are declining gradually due to rising living standards and higher female participation in the workforce. There will be some changes in the global population order, with Mexico overtaking Japan to become the 10th largest country by population, in 2024. The number of countries with a population of more than 100 million people will rise from 13 today to 16 by the same year, as Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Vietnam all join the club. While countries with fast-growing populations will benefit from their expanding labour force and consumer base, it is also challenging for them to create enough jobs for their youthful population in order to realise a “demographic dividend”.

The ten most populous countries in the world by 2024

Source: Euromonitor International from national statistics/UN

Note: Data are forecasts

One in every ten people will be aged 65 and over

The world will grow older even faster, with the number of people aged 65+ reaching more than 800 million by 2024, on the back of rising life expectancy. Most of the expansion in population aged 65+ will come from emerging and developing countries, including China and India. Becoming old before becoming rich will have major impacts on these countries, and businesses and consumers should see a lot of labour market, taxation and welfare reforms, as governments try to adapt to their countries’ new demographic-economic circumstances. On the market side, there will be a surging need for innovations and adaptation in product/service designs to cater to the needs of older consumers.

There will be 33 megacities

As urbanisation continues apace, the number of megacities (cities with more than 10 million inhabitants) will reach 33 by 2024. Also, the global population density will hit 62 people per square kilometres, suggesting that urban infrastructure, housing, mobility and clean air will become even more important issues. Countries will need to rethink how their cities will be designed, while businesses that accommodate the evolving needs of megacities citizens will reap the rewards of this development.

Global Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions 2000-2018

Source: Euromonitor International from Energy Information Administration of the US Government, International Energy Agency

Agricultural production will surge to feed the world

Given the rise in food demand, global agricultural production is forecast to reach a value of USD6.4 trillion by 2024, representing a 20% real increase during the 2019-2024 period. Sustainably feeding eight billion people will become a major challenge for economies and businesses, as farming land and the number of people working in the agricultural sector is shrinking. Meanwhile, agricultural production, including livestock farming, still accounts for a high share of greenhouse gas emissions, prompting growing environmental concerns for both governments and consumers. Innovative farming technologies that allow higher productivity and better utilisation of resources will thus have huge growth potential.

For a more detailed analysis on the topic, please read the full report “The 8 Billion World”.

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