I recently read a fascinating article in Foreign Affairs by Jack A. Goldstone in which he argues that we do not today have a world overpopulation problem but rather a population imbalance. For example, about 90% of the children under age 15 worldwide live in the developing world. Also, 2010 is the first time in history that the majority of the world’s population lives in cities rather than the countryside, concentrating their poverty.
What does this mean for the future? Fast-forward twenty years and 90% of the world’s 25-35 year olds will be living in the developing world, during their most productive years. Unless things change, we are going to have a lot of aging people in Europe, Japan and the U.S. sitting on their money with no one to do the work of our society, while the developing world will be filled with young potential workers without jobs.
In this light our current immigration debate in the U.S. is completely misguided. We are going to need more immigrants from the developed world to perform essential functions and we better figure that out soon.
Perhaps Goldstone’s most intriguing observation is that we in the developing world need to consider retiring to nice, sunny, low-cost spots in the developing world, such as the Mediterranean, Mexico, Turkey and Southeast Asia. Doing so will stretch our retirement dollars and provide jobs locally. It will also force developing countries to build a better health infrastructure, which will in turn incentivize local physicians so stay, rather than emigrating to the developed world, thus raising the quality of medical care generally. I’m in! Retiring to the coast of Turkey or Mexico sounds pretty great to me.
In the meantime, we continue to work with nonprofit clients to help identify how these trends will impact the future of their organizations and the nonprofit sector as a whole.