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Pandemic May Accelerate Several Trends Forecast for 2030

January 25, 2021

By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU

A professor from the Wharton School of Management recently published a book entitled "2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide And Reshape The Future Of Everything". During a recent interview on NPR's podcast (includes transcript), The Indicator, the author said the pandemic is accelerating some of these trends so much so that his book probably should be re-titled "2028" to be more accurate.

Here are some trends discussed during the interview.

Trend #1: By 2030, there will reportedly be more robots operating in industrial sectors than in manufacturing sectors. For example, automation is reportedly increasing in service sectors (e.g. tourism and hospitality), as robots become more intelligent, which has the potential to cause more unemployment for those service sector workers—during the podcast the professor noted even teachers could be replaced. To support the growth in automation, different jobs will reportedly be created—however, such jobs will likely involve creative and technical skills that may be difficult for some of those people that have lost their jobs, especially older workers, to acquire. The podcast notes this could thus potentially develop into a large problem that society will likely need to address. (See also this 2018 report by PwC that forecasts to 2030 the impact of automation by job type. Also, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia published a discussion paper in September 2020 highlighting early study results that indicate how the pandemic poses a greater threat for permanent job loss to occupations considered automatable.)

Trend #2: By 2030, globally the number of grandparents will outnumber the number of grandchildren. This means, per the podcast, that for the first time the largest consumer sector will be older than 60 years old. Such a market will likely force many companies to change the focus of their products and services, and it will also likely have a significant effect on politics, and healthcare and pension systems. (McKinsey published a similar forecast in 2016, see details in their report here)

Trend #3: By 2030, globally, women will reportedly own more wealth than men. Per the podcast, despite continued wage discrimination, a college graduation rate of more than 50% for women has helped them continue to make significant progress regarding increasing income and wealth accumulation. As such, when combined with the trend that women reportedly are generally healthier, and live longer than men, experts forecast women will likely own more wealth worldwide; this also includes the likelihood they inherit from their partners.

Trend #4: By 2030, the largest global consumer market will reportedly no longer consist of Western consumers. Per the podcast, experts generally considered Europe to be the world's largest consumer market until about 60 years ago when it shifted to the United States. The next shift will reportedly be to China by 2030 and then to India by about 2045 (See also this related 2020 World Economic Forum report for more details). Such a shift will likely mean companies will change their focus to Asian consumers, and it may also likely, per the podcast,

result in a very different balance in terms of economic, political, geopolitical power in the world […] even more specific [may lead to] a big clash between the middle classes - the emerging middle class of consumers in Asia and the second- or third-generation middle class that we have here in the United States or in Europe.

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