Drivers of Global Population Change

Euromonitor International identified rapid urbanisation, accelerating migration and population ageing as the most important forces of global population change, as they have the power to transform the world we live in. The pace of change, however, varies significantly between different countries.

Global population change

The world population is expected to exceed 8.5 billion in 2030, a rise of 14.1% or 1.0 billion over 2017-2030. The rate of natural change will, nevertheless, slow down through to 2030, largely as a result of declining birth and fertility rates. Thanks to increasing life expectancy, older age groups will increase at the fastest rate between 2017 and 2030, with those aged 65+ years increasing by 53.4% or 3.3 billion.

Urban population will increase by 25.4%  ̶  nearly twice the pace of total population growth during 2017-2030 and is expected to make up 61.2% of the global population in 2030.

The future is urban

The unprecedented shift from rural to urban living is a major population change impacting the global consumer landscape. By 2030, there will be 30 mega cities across the globe, the vast majority being in emerging markets particularly Asia.

Rapid urbanisation generates opportunities for businesses as it is usually easier to reach urban consumers than their rural counterparts. Urbanisation is often accompanied by the transition to smaller households as well as new lifestyles and consumption habits, which in turn creates significant opportunities. However, urbanisation places huge demands on infrastructure, services, job creation, environment and resources, all of which can impact the consumer market and business environment in urban agglomerations.


Rural vs. Urban World Populations in 2030

world population by rural/urban location 2030

Global migration is a key feature in an interconnected world

Migration is set to rise and become a key feature in an increasingly globalised and interconnected world. In developed markets, in particular, higher birth rates among ethnic minority communities will further increase ethnic, cultural and religious diversity with important implications for brands and businesses.

With the share of foreign citizens in total population varying hugely from 88.2% in Qatar to less than 0.1% in Indonesia, the effects of migration are uneven between countries. However, where it occurs, migration has a profound impact on both the country that has been left behind and the country that is being migrated to. It adds to ethnic, cultural and religious diversity and shapes demographic, economic and social dynamics in these countries.

The world is growing older

Population ageing, driven by rising life expectancy and falling fertility rates, is a powerful and transformative demographic force. The fertility rates of all developed countries (with the exception of Israel) have fallen below 2.1 children born per female, which is the rate needed for a developed nation to hold its population constant. But ageing is not restricted to developed economies. China is home to a fifth of the world’s urban population and to an even larger proportion of the global population aged 65+ as a consequence of rapid ageing.

Ageing presents challenges such as a shrinking labour force, reduced savings leading to depressed investment and growth, and increasing government spending on healthcare and pensions. However, as older people become more active as both workers and consumers, population ageing will create new demands and present many opportunities.

Today’s environment of fast-paced change makes it more challenging than ever to keep up with competitors. Megatrend analysis helps businesses better anticipate market developments and lead both incremental and disruptive change for their industries.