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You are here: Home / Signals — well-being and the environment / Signals 2011 / Earth 2050 global megatrends / Economic growth, rather than population growth, will be the core driver of consumption

Economic growth, rather than population growth, will be the core driver of consumption

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The global population will still be growing in 2050 but more slowly than in the past. People will live longer, be better educated and migrate more. Some populations will increase as others shrink. Migration is only one of the unpredictable prospects for Europe and the world.

 Why is global demography important for you?

Population growth influences most global megatrends. The stabilisation of the human population — projected to occur in the second half of the current century — will not solve the world's problems but can help efforts towards sustainable development.

A growing population will increase the use of natural resources, environmental pollution and land use changes like urbanisation. The shifts in global demographic trends will have direct impacts on local environments through climate change and resource consumption.

In Europe, migration from outside may compensate to some extent for the natural decline of Europe’s population and workforce but will require substantial policy interventions at the regional and national levels.

The idea that overpopulation will be a primary cause of planetary crisis is being discussed. It is not that there are too many of us for the planet to sustain but rather that lifestyles in the rising number of industrialised economies demand more resources than the planet can produce. The use of natural resources is driven more by economic growth than population growth in an increasing number of regions.

Graph 4: Change in middle class consumption

A bigger global middle class in 2050 will mean greater spending power. In this study, the middle class is defined in terms of consumption levels: It is the group of households spending between USD 10 and 100 per day (in purchasing power parity). For a full list of references see: Global megatrends: living in an urban world, www.eea.europa.eu/soer/europe-and-the-world/megatrends

Change in middle class consumption

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