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Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006


The world economic scene

The world is fast changing, with world changes are accelerating in the next 20 years, with:

Instantaneous communications,
The Web network just starting now, with still uncharted magic developments
Access to disposable income for increasing numbers
Growing needs for infrastructures
This is a major phenomenon for mankind, more than Renaissance or Industrial Revolution, but immediately visible and happening much faster. It is a change of world that has become global in less than 15 years.

A change of pace, as:

Europe took a century to develop,
The US, 50 years,
Japan, 25 years,
New emerging countries 10 or 15 years, from ploughs to computers.

Why 20 years from now?

20 years is not so long a time, as many of us remember 1986, towns are still there and most buildings.
There is higher income and better living for many more.
There are other dark sides, but they are not the topic of this paper.
Most of 2006 could be already forecast in 1986.

So, 2020 is written in large part, in continuing context, and yet there is more than extrapolations, there are breakthroughs to come. In this long term still foreseeable future, the tapering-off of ethylene and petrochemicals is not to happen before 2030-2035.

Population forecasts are tapering-off to 2020.

In the industrialized world, Europe, Russia, N. America, Japan, there were 1.5 billions in 2000, and the population will grow slowly to 1.6 billions in 2020, 0.3 %/year.

For the new giants, China, India, Brazil, 2.3 billions, in 2000, to grow 1% /year to 2.8 billions in 2020.

In the new emerging economies, Middle East, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, 1.3 billions in 2000, to grow 1% /year to 1.6 billions in 2020.

And for the laggard areas, most of Africa and a few others, the 2000 population total is to grow from 1 billion plus in 2000 to 1.3 billions, 1.4% /year.

The total world population of 6.1 billions in 2000 is to reach 7.3 billions in 2020, with average rate of growth of less 1%, markedly slowing down compared to 1980-2000, 1.5%/year.

Gross National Income GNI continues to grow

Total world GNI of 31 300 billion dollars in 2000 is to grow an average long term rate of 2.5 % /year.

With a total world GNI of 50 000 billion dollars in 2020, the per capita GNI, that was $ 5100 in 2000, will reach $ 6800 in 2020.

There will be free trade for all industrial products in 2020. Major trading areas will develop into blocks, consolidating and extending the existing trade areas:

  • NAFTA and FTAA
  • Economic Union EU and associates
  • Mercosur
  • ASEAN and associates

All these forecasts are halfway from those developed by Goldman Sachs on the BRIC report, about Brazil, Russia, China, India emergence as world leaders by 2050, a very fascinating reading that has been widely read in India in end 2003.

Future society

Yet the world is changing in many ways in the next 20 years and beyond, with major macro economic trends to continue in the long term, as long as nothing catastrophic happens to the world and to the planet.

The so-called "globalization" is blending into "gloCalization", from the "nation" to the "region", as German futurologist Matthias Horx describes.

There is the new major phenomenon of the aging of the population about everywhere.

Actually, aging is the surface of things, what is happening is a deeper trend, another demographic transition. The first transition in the 20th century was fewer deaths, the new transition, of the 21st century, is fewer births. Population had exploded, to the dismay of most analysts, because of great unbalance between more births and later deaths. Population will shrink, with fewer births, and more deaths that cannot be postponed for ever.

Many analysts worry about aging population, they should not. Age is a relative and artificial definition. Old age had been defined at 60 by the late Latin lawyer Cicero, and we have stuck to that definition ever since. Those of us with some past vision may remember how the definition of old age has changed over their lifetime. The seventy year olds of today are more like the fifty plus of bygone days.

Democracy winning

There have been more democratic regimes with elections in the last 20 years, and hopefuls see time winning over most last strongholds of non democracies.

Continuing development of mass education, in spite of set-backs, slow moves and failures. Better education is a major key to development, helped by the smaller number of children. Women education is a major drive in this trend, still hopeful, but getting ground in many countries.

Other sociological trends, still in the rich developed areas, but to be gradually imitated everywhere, are greater individualization, growing importance of women in the work place, leading to “birth strike”. These trends already have an impact on marketing strategies for consumer products in the richer countries, like marketing and advertising to the singles, to the matures.

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