Weekly Geopolitical Report – Investment Implications of Changing Demographics: Part I (February 10, 2020)

by Patrick Fearon-Hernandez, CFA

(Note: Due to the President’s Day holiday, our next report will be published on February 24.)

In the 1960s and 1970s, people worried a lot about rapid population growth.  According to the United Nations, the world’s population was growing at an average annual rate of more than 1.9% during those decades, jumping from 3.0 billion in 1960 to 4.5 billion in 1980.  That created a lot of concern about the implications for the environment, social stability, and the economy.  However, many people don’t realize that population growth has slowed dramatically since then.  The global population is expected to grow only about 1.05% in 2020, and growth is projected to slow all the way to zero by 2200.  This dramatic slowing and the associated aging of the population are already having a big impact on society.

In theory and practice, population trends should affect investment returns, even if it’s hard to separate their impact from other, shorter-term economic and financial factors.  This three-part series aims to lay out the broad contours of today’s global population story, with a focus on last year’s updated forecasts from the UN Population Division.

Part I of the report will focus on the broad contours of today’s global population trends and what they mean for relative geopolitical power in the coming decades.  In two weeks, Part II will focus on specific demographic trends in the United States.  The following week, Part III will examine the economic impact of these trends.  Many other forces will have a greater impact on investments in the short run, but Part III will conclude with a discussion of how these demographic trends are likely to affect the financial markets in the long run.

View the full report