The world’s birth rate is changing. Clint Laurent from Global Demographics shares surprising discoveries that he believes will happen in the next 10 years and how this will shape the world?
This is the second part of this discussion. Go here for part one.
Clint started Global Demographics in 1996 and cover 117 countries throughout the world and China. They do that right down to county level of 2,248 counties. Clint believes that demographics are better than financial data from the point of view of forecasting because they tend to be stable trends.
Global Demographics is able to come up with reliable forecasts at least 15 years out. After 15 years, reliability goes down and they are typically never more plus or minus 5% error in our long-term forecast. Their clients are mainly consumer goods companies, infrastructure backbones and things like that.
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This QuickHit episode was recorded on June 17, 2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit Clint Demographics Part 2 QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
TN: So Indonesia, India, Brazil and so on, so capital formation, capital investment is the real weakness there and it seems to me that’s a function of largely education. Is that fair to say?
CL: That’s exactly what it is. I mean, they you know, as they get the education right and, you know, they’re working on it, most of these countries that have been quite responsible in that area. And as they get that right, so the investment comes in, so the consumer gets more affluent and becomes a virtuous circle.
TN: OK, well, what timescale are we talking about for that consumption to come in a really notable way, for example, to take the place of, say, the under 40 Chinese consumption or the under 40, say, Western Europe or American consumption?
CL: Well, that’s the bad news. I mean, when you take India at least 15 years to get there. Because the education is only just coming right. And again to pick on India. India’s urbanization, 10 years ago, it was 30% of the population. Today, it’s 33% of the population.
TN: OK. So it’s not happening nearly fast enough.
CL: No. When you’re an uneducated girl in a village, why would you go to a slum somewhere of a big city? Your lifestyle would be actually worse, not better. And so they hadn’t been able to get that China effect of moving people from the low productivity agriculture into high productivity urban type of work.
TN: Yeah, but I think a lot of the, particularly the Westerners who are watching this would say, yeah, but I’ve been to Gurgaon and I’ve, you know, I’ve been to that kind of tech hubs in India. And I see, you know, a lot of women coming up in those hubs or have come up in those hubs over the last 10 or 20 years. But is not just such a small percentage that it matters, but it’s not making a huge difference?
CL: Exactly. It’s a small percentage. I mean, remember India is just behind China in terms of total population now. And by 2045, there’s 1.5 billion people. Because they’ve got the birthrate right under control as well. It’s dropping. But again, they’ve got an inertia of more women of childbearing age coming through. So total births keep going up. So they’ve got this problem of just too many people looking for jobs, which keeps the wage rates down. And that. And that’s what’s frustrating the education system, too, is they have to keep growing the number of school places to stand still, let alone expand. But they’re getting that right. So I don’t want to sound negative about that. All these countries are doing quite nicely on that, some positive.
And so but one important point to make is the demographic dividend hasn’t been collected. There’s was a lot of talk about India having a demographic dividend because there are always young people entering working age. But the trouble is they weren’t well enough educated, so they didn’t find jobs. In 2010, the propensity of a working age person to be in work was 58%. It’s now 50%. In other words, they couldn’t find the jobs for these people, so the dividend never paid off.
TN: OK, so jobs lead to consumption, of course.
CL: That’s right.
TN: But I guess. So it’s going to take these countries 10 to 15 years or more to get the quality of jobs that are needed.
TN: So, you know, that growth that we’ve lazily relied on, say, China for the last 10 or 20 or 20 to 30 years, is there a gap between now and 10 to 15 years from now in terms of the rate of growth for, say, consumer goods and say, economic kind of new market entry, that sort of thing?
CL: Yeah, well, this is the crisis that’s coming. Because if we take, again, the kind of what I call the family stage countries, India, Brazil, etc, they actually need around about 250 million extra jobs in the next 25 years to get, to maintain their existing level of employment. Not lift it. Just maintain it. And that gives them a reasonable level of income. Not great, but hopefully with education situation, the earnings go up.
But let me put another layer on the cake, so to speak. This is fourth group of countries, which I call young and poor. I call them young because the median age of all of the countries in this group is 20 and some of them have a median age of 14. Mali and Niger, they both have a median age of 14.
That means half the population in those countries is under the age of 14 today. Yeah, and their birth rates are high. The average birth rate, an unweighted across these countries is 130 per thousand women. Most countries are at 40 elsewhere in the world. And the number of women of childbearing age, of course, are going up dramatically because of that as well. So even though the birthrate is starting to come down, it goes up dramatically. And it has a seismic effect.
First of all, is roughly a billion people in this part of the world at the moment. In 25 years time, there’s two billion of these people. In other words, in twenty five years, they add a billion people to their populations. And if I can just go on and to take Nigeria, for example, at the moment, has 45 million school age children, irrespective whether they are going to school, most of them are not. 45 million. It’s 90 million in 25 years time. Just to stand still on education, they have to double their education budget. And so, little own issues need improving.
TN: OK, so governments take, need tax revenue to grow their budgets. So will there will there be the incomes to allow them to grow those budgets just to keep up with where they are? And further, will they be able to accelerate the job growth to make sure they have those incomes, to keep their education, to improve their education like, say, India or Indonesia is doing well?
CL: Well, this is the crisis that’s coming because the answer simply is no. And it’s no for the simple reason that up until now, this is really what I was saying we were at a cusp. Up until now, the growth in consumption by the older affluent or the older countries generally, which includes China, has been such that it’s kept relatively full employment throughout the world.
There’s been enough jobs for those who are looking for jobs. And that doesn’t sound a bit. But even the young, poor countries have been trotting along at about 55% of working age people employed, which seems to work out quite well. But suddenly that whole relationship changes. As I said, the countries that account for, well, the old affluent account for 63% of global consumption. The other old add another 14% say up to 77% or 80%, chuck in a bit of India, 80%, which is also flattening out. So the countries account for 80% of the money that’s spent by households now flatten out in growth in their demand.
Layer on top of that, there’s a continuous increase in productivity per worker. The amount of number of workers needed to meet the new additional demand over the next 25 years is 300 million. And as I told you earlier, this 740 million people that are going to be looking for an extra job.
It’s going to be roughly 400 million people, mainly in the poor countries, are in a little bit in need, family stage countries, who are at working age, would like to have a job, but can’t get a job. That’s 400 million.
TN: That’s astounding. OK, so that’s as big as, say, the EU, right?
CL: Yeah, well, bigger.
TN: So if everyone in the EU didn’t have a job but they wanted a job. Man, woman and child couldn’t get a job.
CL: That’s right.
TN: So that’s terrible. So what do you think those people will do? What do you think some of the effects will be of this? First of all, where is this, kind of generally, geographically? Is this the kind of Bangladesh, Nigeria, kind of those types of countries?
CL: It’s based of the African continent and what we call South India, but not including India or Sri Lanka, which will be in Tibet, out there.
TN: So Bangladesh, Pakistan, Central Asia generally.
CL: And there’s a few small countries, obviously, in South America or Central America that are falling into this category as well. So it’s reasonably concentrated geographically. And it’s a real worry. And I think of myself. If I was turning, well, let’s say 20 and I cannot get a job. I’m scrambling for food. I’m scrambling for water, in some places in the world. What do I do? I’ve got nothing to lose. And that’s what something dramatic, I would rot and just die miserable, which is terrible.
So I think the world has a fairly major migration problem coming. These people are going to walk north. I would. So I don’t blame them. But it’s a desperate situation. So much so that in my own mind, it’s all very well to donate money to buy mosquito nets and things like that. I actually think would be better to donate money for a TV and an Internet connection so we could educate the kids. Because we could deliver education quite cheaply using modern technology. And if you could educate them, then they could do more productive things and then and so on and so on. You get the part of that. But there’s no easy solution to this one.
These people are largely alive today, will be alive in the next 10 years. And the consumption trends, well, they’re there too. The people with the money are getting older and saving. So the drawbridges are coming up. So this is.
TN: So migration. The migration issues we’ve seen over the last, say, 5 to 10 years sounds to me that they only intensify over the next, say, 15 to 20 years.
CL: Oh, incredibly so.
TN: And Europe is really the focal point. Yes. The US has some issues and maybe India, China have some issues. But it really seems to me that Europe is the major focal point there.
CL: But it’s the easy one to get to.
TN: Sure. Yeah.
CL: But there’s some other dimensions of migration, too, which is starting to come under stress. And I mean, for example, let’s take the U.K. It has one nurse for every 440 people in the population. So if you get sick, your access to a nurse is pretty good. But the UK hires nurses who have been trained and educated in the Philippines where there’s one nurse for every 4000 people in the population. Is that morally correct? Should affluent countries take skilled workers, from developing countries?
TN: But can you blame that worker for wanting to go to UK?
CL: Not at all. If I was the nurse, I’d be on the plane. I mean, basically, you’ve got the individual motivation and you’ve got the moral issue, and you’ve got the need. And then even if you take a country like Greece, which everyone says, oh, that’s nice and comfortable.
Greece’s population has dropped by one million people in the last 10 years. And that one million that are gone are skilled workers who got on a train and went north to Germany because under the EU, they can move.
TN: What percentage of the population is that? One?
CL: About 10%.
TN: 10% of the population?
CL: Well, you know, it’s a big drop. And again, you don’t blame the skilled plumber or electrician or whatever because he or she can earn 2 to 3 times as much going to Germany or getting across to Britain, which they could do perfectly legally. And then in 5 years time, the wife is with them, the kids are going to school, that kids speak German now, they never go back.
TN: So does this change, does this, you know, let’s say the education deficit issues and the jobs deficit issues in Africa, does it change immigration policy in Europe, for example, in the way Australia has the checklist of skills and those sorts of things to to migrate?
Does Europe come more to that type of migration policy to where they incentivize people, let’s say, in parts of Africa before coming, meaning get educated, you know, these sorts of things. And you can definitely come in. I mean, it certainly sounds like something that would be really helpful for places like Greece.
CL: Yeah, but not too helpful for places like Nigeria.
CL: They’re losing the skilled worker. And the ability to lift the Nigerian economy is going to be a function of having skilled people. And if Greece takes them, that’s actually not that great. Right. So, yeah, you sort of resolve the great problem, but you don’t resolve the core problem, which is the change so to speak. Yeah. So it’s interesting because Greece, with its drop in population, its household values are dropping because the number of households is going down. And that’s the core asset of many households. So it’s trying to create some economic problems as well because the asset they could borrow against is going down in value, not going up in value. But that’s not just Greece. It’s Italy, Spain. It’s Romania, it’s Poland. And that being, you know, some of the talents are being sucked out. And that’s not good.
TN: So in sum, let me try to sum this up, because this has been a great conversation and it’s really opened up a lot of things I haven’t really thought about before. So so global consumption generally for, let’s say, the next 10 years or so is relatively stable.
We won’t see the rapid expansion that we saw in places like China over the last 10 or 20 years. So let’s say the pull on commodities right now, the inflation we’re seeing, the, you know, this sort of thing, that stuff really tamps down pretty quickly and really stabilizes for maybe a decade or so.
TN: Once that stabilizes, then we see real disparities as these kind of young, poor countries explode in population. But the wealthy countries are pretty stable and continue to be pretty rich. Right. So we kind of have a status quo for the next decade or so. But then after that, there’s a real danger that emerges from global disparity.
CL: That’s right. You start to have a major, what I’d call a population crisis.
TN: Wow. OK. It’s a little bit dire. But this is great. Before we go, can you talk about, I know you have a couple of books coming out. Can you tell us what they’re about? I know they’re a little bit from coming to press, but I think it would be really helpful for people to understand what you’re writing about.
CL: Right. Well, one of the two books is basically called 2045: The Growing Demographic Crisis. And it’s pretty much along the lines that I’ve just discussed, the difference is, all the data is there. And you’ve got the data, if you like, at the segment level, which also go to by country level. And you can see how the numbers play out. It’s not something that we’re making these numbers up. They’re actually there. They’re pretty solid. And the core source, of course, is the World Bank and the United Nations that you can’t really argue with that. And it’s all old numbers behind what I’ve just discussed.
And the second book coming out is called China: 2040. Similar sort of theme. And what I have done that is China is going through a lot of changes that I’ve explained and China will continue to be important economically and politically for the next 10 years at least, if not longer. We know that.
So it’s actually quite important that people have a better understanding of what China is like demographically. And it’s not one country, it’s at least thirty one countries. The differences in consumption within that, it’s quite diversified.
This book is, if you like, the primer for someone that’s either doing business, thinking of doing business, investing in, whatever, into China. If you haven’t read it and you don’t know China, then you’d be dealing somewhat riskilly. If you read this, it’ll help you focus where the opportunities potentially are. Thanks for the opportunity to mention.
TN: Of course. Thank you so much for your time. You’ve been very generous and I think we’ve taken it a lot. I think of it to watch this two or three times before I kind of fully take it in. So I really appreciate it.
Further watching, please. We’d really appreciate if you’d like the video. We’d love it if you’d subscribe to our YouTube channel. And we’ll see you next time. Thank. Thanks very much.
CL: Thank you.