By 2030 one in five people will be African. Combine the continent’s soaring population with technology, improvements in infrastructure, health and education, and Africa could be the next century’s economic growth powerhouse.
A quarter of a century of failure and economic stagnation has built a strong consensus on what ails Japan. All sources of analysis—domestic, foreign, government, corporate and nonprofit—identify two problems: the country’s aging demographics and its deeply entrenched, top-down approach to economic organization. This analysis is wrong.
The liberalization of the one-child policy had been expected—and virtually inevitable. China, after all, is heading toward accelerated demographic decline. The country’s population is now projected to peak in 2028, well before the 2030–2035 timeframe expected just a half decade ago. In all probability, the top will be reached earlier, maybe in 2020.
The first decade of this century witnessed an historic reduction in global poverty and a near doubling of the number of people who could be considered middle income. But the emergence of a truly global middle class is still more promise than reality.
According to theannual Global Peace Index report, released on Wednesday, there are more than 50 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) around the globe right now. Put another way, that’s one in every 133 people worldwide and 0.75 percent of the world population. Put yet another way, that’s roughly the equivalent of the entire population of South Korea being pushed out of their homes, or as if the combined populations of Australia and Taiwan had to leave.
Statistics bear out China’s global dominance. Since Deng abandoned doctrinaire communism in 1978, growth has surged an average of 9.8 percent annually. Since 2001, China has overtaken Italy, the U.K., France, Germany, and Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy. Its $10 trillion GDP dwarfs India’s $2 trillion. Not only has China built the world’s biggest stockpile of foreign reserves, at $3.7 trillion; the country also accounts for one-third of the global total and boasts 10 times India’s amount. Even O’Neill acknowledges the imbalance: “If India grows by 8 percent for the rest of this decade and China grows by 7 percent, China will still create another three Indias before the decade is over.”
…Unfortunately for the Chinese, their country’s population is about to peak and then shrink fast. Fewer people may not necessarily mean less power, but a shriveling population requires the country’s leadership to overcome demographic trends rather than be propelled by them, as it has since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.