Population and Demography
Disruptive changes from drivers such as mobile internet, cloud computing, big data, new energy supplies, sharing economy, artificial intelligence and machine learning are already in action. Combine this with emerging trends on urbanization, climate change, birth rates, agricultural productivity, and one can expect a future that will look very different from today.
New forms of Employment
How will the workplace look like, when maybe 50 % of the jobs that will be practiced in 5 to 10 years do not yet exist? What will be the social cohesion in a time of stretching of inequalities, precarity of work conditions, shortening life-cycle of business models (and therefore companies), ageing population, rise of unemployment? How will we be able to provide a stable income in such a volatile environment?
Will we be able to prepare the coming workforce, and retrain the existing one? Do we have a clear strategy for this? Will we be able to mobilize the resources for this?
With 25% in France, 40% and above in southern Europe, Youth unemployment is a major issue that may jeopardize the foundations of our societies and the construction of the EU.
Satisfactory answers to such questions are unfortunately not available. But at least, the problem is adequately described in studies such as "The Future of Jobs", by the World Economic Forum or the special report on Youth and Employment of the Economist.
According to the Pew Research Center, the population will:
- increase to 9.5-10 bio people, with major growth in Africa
- grow older, especially in the developed regions, with the number of the 65 and more expected to triple from 1/2 bio to 1.5 bio by 2050
Immigration in Europe: Cultures and inequalities
Europe is facing a surge of immigrants that is challenging paradigms on freedom of circulation and traditional values of hosting populations in need for protection.
A comprehensive overview on Impact of Immigration by The Economist is addressing this issue: there are winners and losers in the globalization game, and by not recognizing this properly, and by not putting in place corrective measures, the pressure by populists to close the borders will increase, with the overall negative impact on economic growth.
2 facts are at the core of this mutation
1- IMMIGRATION AND THE RISE OF INEQUITIES: While the globalization has generated an enormous increase of the wealth of the nations, it has also increased inequalities within nations. This means that we have a segment of the population that is penalized by this opening of the frontiers. And left unprotected against globalization, it will react against opening of the borders, i.e. against immigration, and vote for populist solutions. Branko Milanovic elaborates on this in his book "Global Inequality: A New Approach of Immigration in the Age of Globalization" presented by The Economist here.
Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist on development, has published an insightful article contributing to the debate of Migration: and without a clear understanding of the winners and potential losers in the immigration process, and without a clear common policy on criteria for acceptance and on Social Benefits, Europe will face a worsening crisis that might ultimately sap it's foundations.
2-IMMIGRATION AND CULTURAL VALUES: The fact that the immigrants are to a very large extend Muslims and the recent events in Europe, in France and Germany, with their impact on the perception of immigration by the population have resulted in a rise of Islamophobia, that is not tempered by an adequate dialogue among the different communities. Without a proper way of managing the immigration, the foundations of a free circulation and economic prosperity might be jeopardized. A must read article in Foreign Affairs elaborates on this, and Foreign Affairs brings a fascinating description of the changes in the Arab World in thisseries of interviews.
Immigration policies that are not ankered into realities will most probably back-fire.
Ageing of the Population
In developed countries, but this includes now China, the ageing of the Population will raise 2 major challenges: financing of the pension funds, and of the health systems. So far, we rather tend to bury our head in the sand, but clearly, reality will catch us soon, and a delicate debate on funding of social security or pension funds, and of inter-generational solidarity is unavoidable.
That the next generation will benefit from the same opportunities of growth of income is nowadays very much challenged. Youth are facing high rate of unemployment, despite a better education than former generations. This, quoting the Economist on this, is a massive waste of resources.
Additionally, in many countries, the real income from a large part of the population failed to improve during the last decade, contrary to what was experienced previously. This situation is leading such segment of the population to question the benefits of the globalization, and have negative opinions about trade and immigration. The rise of the populism in Europe and America is often also related to this situation. The McKinsey Report: "Poorer than their parents..." elaborates on this situation.
Coping with the challenges of ageing might result in questionning benefits that are becoming difficult to finance or will become questionable in view of Inter-Generational Solidarity, as depicted in thisForeign Affairs article. The discussion on the type of adequate medical care for the last 6 months, that make seemingly 80% of the life-long health expenses, is at the corner.