There are a lot of interesting perspectives on youth. Brain development, trends, psychology… The combination is the best, but also the hardest. I know that picking just one element out of the complex world is very limited, but the strange thing is that the element of demographics seldom is an element when discussing Gen Y. Of course we know that all around the world Gen Y is one of the biggest generations ever, but there are huge regional differences.
For instance, if we take a look at the BRIC countries:
- The BRIC countries share certain characteristics, such as large populations, swiftly developing economies and, for some, high levels of natural resources on which to draw. Rapidly increasing incomes and huge consumer numbers offer consumer goods companies ample business opportunities. The BRIC countries are, however, set to diverge both in terms of economic development and demographic make-up.
- The most marked shift in demographics will be in Russia, owing to the fact that it is the only one of the BRIC countries experiencing a population decline, reducing the labour market and signalling a higher proportion of pensioners.
- Brazil in particular is falling behind in terms of GDP growth and consumer spending power. The annual population growth in Brazil is forecast to slow down by 2020 but the high proportion of youth will ensure the growth of its labour and consumer market in the medium-term.
- China will suffer from a combination of an ageing population and declining youth population, largely a result of its one-child policy since 1979. Population growth will be relatively slower in China than in Brazil or India but the sheer size of its population continues to promise a significant consumer base.
- India will also experience ageing, although strong population growth will ensure it retaining a large and growing youth population to swell the labour force. 26.7% of India’s population is projected to be under the age of 15 in 2020. (source)
Even if you compare Belgium and the Netherlands, 2 neighbour countries, there are subtle differences. Belgium has known a baby-boom for almost 10 years, with only the last year a small decline in growth, while in Holland the amount of births doesn’t reflect the same course. (source BE, source NL)
It’s not as if demographics can predict economic growth, but they sure can have an influence. The Russian president Putin may be asking for people to have more kids, but if young people are leaving his country, then there is a problem (source). If you have too many young people and no jobs, then it’s hard. If you have some jobs, but too few young people, and even they are leaving the country, then to me a country seems doomed for a long time. This seems the case for Ireland and Spain. Just take a look at the population pyramid of Spain.
It could be an idea for people handling the economic crises in Europe at this moment to keepthis element in the back of their minds as well…