Up to Edinburgh last month to talk to investors about demographic disruption and the impact on business at the Walter Scott Investment Conference. Had the great honour to listen to Lynda Gratton author of the excellent The 100 Year Life. I spoke about demographic disruption and changing values. Two stats struck me as having particular ramifications:

 

You will have heard of course about extreme poverty decline, but the real story is the rapid emergence of an emerging global middle class. 1 person escapes poverty every second, five people a second are entering the middle class (those defined as having disposable income and ability to save). The middle class is the most rapidly growing segment of global income distribution.

It will make up 4 billion people by 2020; 5.3 billion by 2030

The Chinese and Indian middle class will account for nearly 15 trillion each – which is near parity with the biggest market in history, the US. It comes with enormous challenges (esp. resources) but also tremendous opportunities. 

 

The second point, no less important, is that the global fertility rate has halved since 1960. This has multiple ramifications, but the most important is the impact for women themselves. Less than half of women in Asia are currently active in the workforce compared with 80% of men. Those that are, are paid 25% less than male counterparts. This is beginning to change and will change rapidly in the next forty years as Asia is forced to tap into their greatest asset: female power. 

 

The future is female. Just look at higher education:  women make up 55% undergrads in the UK; in US, it is 56%. In US, Women earned the majority of doctoral degrees in 2016 for the 8th straight year. #Metoo is an important cultural development, but the real driving impetus for change is demographics.