More Adults, Fewer Children: A Threat or an Opportunity for Toys?

The median age of the population is increasing in the majority of countries, and as a result children are accounting for an increasingly smaller share of the total population. In 2010, 26% of the world’s population were children between 0-14 years old, while in developed markets the figure was even lower. In Western Europe and North America, the percentages were 17% and 20%, respectively. How are toymakers coping with the trend of aging population and does it present a threat or an opportunity? Euromonitor International takes a look at the different population compositions of various countries around the globe.

Number of children in decline

It is little surprise that emerging economies have the highest number of children when considered as a percentage of their total population. For example, in India and South Africa, over 30% of country population are accounted for by children aged 14 or under. Similarly, demographic surveys of Brazil and Turkey reveal that over a quarter of residents in these countries are under 14 years old.

Among the developed economies, Japan and Germany have the lowest proportions of 0-14-year-olds, standing at just 13% in 2010. France and the UK were slightly ahead, having experienced a mild baby boom over the previous couple of decades. In both countries, children accounted for around 18% of the population. However, among the western countries, the US has one of the highest shares of 0-14-year-olds, at 20% of population.

With the exception of Spain, which is experiencing a growing share of children, almost all countries are witnessing a decline in the share of children in their populations as the average age increases. The strongest declines over 2005-2010 were registered in China and South Korea. In both countries, children accounted for over 19% of the population in 2005, but that figure has now fallen to just above 16%.

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What do these numbers mean?

As emerging markets become more affluent and their women more career-oriented, the families are having fewer children. Of course, toymakers would like to see more children as this is the primary audience for toys. However, there is a silver lining. Expenditure per child is increasing in most countries, particularly in the emerging markets. In Brazil, for example, spend per child more than doubled during the last 5 years, increasing from US$13 in 2005, to US$39 in 2010, while at the same time children population (as % of country’s total population) declined from 28% to 26%.

Another outcome of aging population trend has been that the number of over 65-year-olds has increased, resulting in higher demand for toys targeting this segment. Toy companies which focus on collectible ranges, such as die-cast car model manufacturers Maisto and Corgi, are well positioned to reap the benefits of an ageing society. Similarly, grandparents are also emerging as key gift purchasers. With more time on their hands, they are likely to shop for toys as gifts for their grandchildren.