Predicting the economic landscape in 2030. : The Indicator from Planet Money What will the global economy look like in a decade? Mauro Guillen joins the show to talk about 2030, his new book where he analyzes the economic trends of the future.
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The Economy In 2030

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The Economy In 2030

The Economy In 2030

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON, BYLINE: NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF DROP ELECTRIC SONG, "WAKING UP TO THE FIRE")

CARDIFF GARCIA, HOST:

Hey, everyone. Happy New Year. It's Cardiff, and this is THE INDICATOR FROM PLANET MONEY. Mauro Guillen is a professor of international management at the Wharton School and is the author of a new book called "2030," in which he tries to anticipate what the world is going to look like in 2030, in about a decade, based on some of the trends that we can already see now. And he says the pandemic has actually accelerated some of these trends, most obviously the shift to a more digitized, more automated economy.

MAURO GUILLEN: Look; my only regret is that instead of calling the book "2030," now I think a more accurate title would be 2028. So I wouldn't say 2021 or 2022. That would be an exaggeration. But yes, the future is arriving much faster than we thought.

GARCIA: But there's also other trends that Mauro predicts are going to really surprise people when they finally become reality. These are trends that might end up having bigger effects on the world than a lot of people are able to grasp right now.

GUILLEN: The problem you see is that so many things are changing. And in the book, I essentially refer to three types of trends; so trends having to do with population, trends having to do with the economy and emerging markets and then finally, technological trends.

GARCIA: So if you felt like last year aged you by a decade, I definitely feel that way. Then on today's show, you're going to find out what the world actually might look like in a decade. Mauro shares a few of his 2030 predictions based on his research that he did for his book right after the break.

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GARCIA: Mauro Guillen, welcome to the podcast.

GUILLEN: I'm really happy to be here.

GARCIA: OK. Mauro, I am just going to list off the predictions for 2030 from your book and - just like rapid-fire and ask you to kind of tell us why they matter. So first up, by 2030, there will be more industrial robots than manufacturing workers. What does that mean? And why is it important?

GUILLEN: Well, what it means is that, I think, we are entering a new phase in terms of automation. It's one that is going to be affecting the manufacturing sector. But let's not forget also the service sector, like even my occupation - teaching, right? And what it means, I think, is that robots are becoming increasingly more intelligent. And we're going to be in a situation in which we're going to have large numbers of people who are technologically unemployed, who can no longer work in the kinds of occupations that they used to - so big challenges there, no question - at the same time, big opportunities for, essentially, eliminating the human factor from very dangerous jobs or also eliminating monotony from the kinds of jobs that we perform.

GARCIA: Yeah. And if those jobs don't exist anymore, you're right that that means that the people who used to do those jobs may find themselves out of work. But won't they possibly also lead to new kinds of jobs to replace the jobs that are lost?

GUILLEN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we are creating these days so many new jobs that essentially involve creativity, that involve negotiation skills, social skills, technical knowledge and so on and so forth. But the problem is that sometimes, the people who lose their jobs, especially if they're in their late 40s or 50s, they find it very difficult to find another line of work. And what I hope is that in the next few years, we don't make the same mistake that we've been making over the last 20 years or so, which is to forget about them. So that's why, I think, as a society, we're going to have to take very bold actions to address that problem.

GARCIA: OK. Next change - globally, by 2030, there will be more grandparents than grandchildren. Why does that matter?

GUILLEN: Well, every generation, as you know, is smaller than the preceding one because the number of babies is falling everywhere in the world, even in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although, over there, they're still having, on average - each woman - about four or 4 1/2 babies. Now, this matters because before we know it, certainly before the year 2030, the largest segment in consumer markets - it's going to be that of the population above age 60 for the first time. So companies, brands will have no option but to pay attention to that demographic. Now, as you can imagine, it's also going to have major implications for pension systems, for our health care sector and for politics - right? - because the priorities of that age group are going to be very different from the priorities for the younger age groups.

GARCIA: OK. Next prediction - this one's really interesting, which is that women will own more of the global wealth than men by 2030.

GUILLEN: Yes. And this is something that has been in the making for a very long time. Women, as you know, now make more than 50% of college graduates. They are increasingly pursuing careers. And although there is still considerable wage discrimination between men and women for the same kinds of jobs, what we're seeing is that women are making a lot of progress in terms of their income and wealth accumulation. Now, in addition to that, the other factor that will, in the end, result in that situation - which more than half of the wealth in the world will be owned by women - is that, as you know, women live longer than men on average. And they stay healthier for a longer period of time than men in their lives. And so they will have more time to work, be productive, earn an income. And, of course, they are more likely to inherit from their partners or spouses than the other way around.

GARCIA: OK. Next prediction - the global economy will be driven by the non-Western consumer for the first time in modern history. What's going on there?

GUILLEN: Well, Europe used to be, at some point, the largest consumer market in the world, then came the United States. And at some point between now and the year 2030, China will become the biggest consumer market, overtaking the United States as the No. 1. And shortly thereafter, by the way, by the year, maybe 2045 or so, India will become, as a consumer market, even bigger than China, right? But if you put together all of the markets in Asia, undoubtedly that part of the world is going to be the center of gravity of global consumption. And there are many implications. But one of them - I think the really important one is that every company in the world will be paying attention primarily to the Asian consumer, not so much any longer to the American consumer, which, as you know, has been the center of attention for the last 50 or 60 years.

GARCIA: I take it this one will also have big geopolitical effects as well, right? I mean, if European and American companies are going to have to start relatively catering more towards consumers beyond their borders, what do you think?

GUILLEN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, all of these trends will, in the end, result in a very different balance in terms of economic, political, geopolitical power in the world. And if I may be even more specific, I think what we are witnessing these days is 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. Their incomes are rising. Ours are stagnant with major not only economic consequences but also political ones.

GARCIA: Yeah. Mauro Guillen, thanks so much.

GUILLEN: Thank you so much for having me.

GARCIA: Again, Mauro Guillen's book is called "2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide And Reshape The Future Of Everything." This episode of THE INDICATOR was produced by Brittany Cronin and fact-checked by Sean Saldana. Paddy Hirsch edits THE INDICATOR, and THE INDICATOR is a production of NPR.

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