Demographics and social change Demographics and social change Demographics and social change

Demographics and social change

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iShares

Summary:  Changes in global demographics will bring significant challenges and opportunities for societies and businesses. Longer lifespans combined with modern lifestyles are likely to change medicine and consumer habits. The forces that underpin this megatrend include ageing populations, the outlook for future jobs, immigration pressure, skills imbalance and different priorities of younger generations.


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Changes in global demographics will bring significant challenges and opportunities for societies and businesses. Longer lifespans combined with modern lifestyles are likely to change medicine and consumer habits. The forces that underpin this megatrend include ageing populations, the outlook for future jobs, immigration pressure, skills imbalance and different priorities of younger generations.

As economies age, healthcare is likely to become a bigger share of household and government spending. We expect firms that address age-related diseases to benefit, along with innovative companies that provide technologies and new solutions to provide better care at lower costs.

Secondly, demographics will be a key driver of structural shifts in consumer spending. As spending power shifts to older households in western economies such as the US, companies seeking growth will need to cater to their unique demands. At the same time, younger consumers are growing up with distinctly different spending priorities versus their parents and grandparents. This will be reflected in what they eat (healthier, fresher) and how they spend time (streaming, gaming) to how they save money (sharing, low-cost travel) and how they invest (with sustainability in mind)1.

Megatrend in three stats

  1. 1 in 6 – expected number of people in the world aged over 65 by 2050, up from 1 in 11 in 20192
  2. 3x – amount more spent on someone aged 70 in the US compared to someone in their 20s and 30s3
  3. 13 hours a day – the average American time spent consuming digital data3

Investing in the trend

Megatrends are broad drivers of global change, identifying more focused themes which tap into one or more megatrends allows you to invest in these opportunities. For demographics and social change, you could use a holistic theme such as the ageing population which provides access to a broad range of companies well-placed to benefit from the needs created by this shifting demographic. Alternatively, a more targeted theme may appeal to you, such as healthcare innovation – investing in the technology and services needed to address the medical needs of the future, digital entertainment and education – providing streaming, gaming and learning services across the generation spectrum, or inclusion and diversity – tapping into the desire of today’s young people to connect with brands aligned to their beliefs.

Sources:

  1. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as at January 2022 Time use of millennials and Generation X: differences across time : Monthly Labor Review: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)
  2. Source: UN, World Population Prospects 2019 https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/ageing
  3. Source: RegisteredNursing.org as at 26/0/2023 https://www.registerednursing.org/articles/healthcare-costs-by-age/
  4. Activate Technology and Media Outlook 2022, 2022



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