(IDEX Online News) – Dire predictions about a severe decline in Europe’s population over the next several decades have been revised to show that the number of people in the region will drop only modestly – from 740 million today to about 732 million 2050, according to newly revised forecasts from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB).
That’s good news for jewelers who had been worried a significant decline in demand in this geopolitical area due to an aging population on fixed incomes as well as due to few younger people coming of age to buy engagement rings
There’s even better news: the population of the 27 countries that comprise the European Union – where the wealth of the region is concentrated – is expected to remain about stable for the foreseeable future, according to PRB forecasters, despite an aging population.
Population Gains Expected For Developing Countries
Global population grew to 7.06 billion in mid-2012, after passing the 7 billion mark in 2011. Developing countries accounted for 97 percent of this growth because of the dual impact of high birth rates and young populations. In contrast, developed countries experienced a birth rate that was barely above the death rate.
Among the developing countries – mostly in Africa along with a few in Asia – the poorest of these countries will experience the greatest percentage increase in population between now and 2050. However, this will not be fertile territory for jewelers due to very low income per capita, high economic vulnerability and poor human development indicators such as a low life expectancy at birth and lack of education.
Among eastern countries, both China and India are expected to add substantially to their population.
Eastern Europe and Russia will experience a population decline due to low fertility rates. However, western European nations are expected to maintain stable population levels. The recent global recession has dimmed hopes in many European countries on the prospects of raising their low birth rates to mitigate the economic impact of unprecedented proportions of the elderly, which will create both shortages in socialized pension systems and higher health care costs.
Long Term Plan for Jewelers: Follow the Money First
It would be easy for jewelers to simply watch population trends, as they plan for their business longer term. However, that could be a mistake. Africa might look like an emerging market due to its rapid population growth, but many of them barely have enough money to feed themselves, much less purchase discretionary goods such as jewelry.
IDEX Online Research continues to focus on the wealthy and emerging wealthy countries of China, India, Western Europe, Japan and America. Western Europe, Japan, and America all have household incomes well over $30,000 per year, a minimum level needed to make significant discretionary purchases.
While neither India nor China have average household incomes above $10,000 annually (China’s is $7,640 and India’s is $3,400), both countries have a large and growing middle class with enough income to make significant jewelry purchases. For example, India’s middle class is estimated to be between 300 million and 400 million people, more than the total population of the United States. The country’s middle class has ample income to make discretionary purchases of goods such as jewelry.
The table below summarizes the PRB’s forecast for population for the most populous countries in the world over the next several decades. Sometime in the next ten years, India will overtake China as the most populous country in the world.
Population Clock 2012
For those readers who like trivia, the PRB has provided a “Population Clock” for the world. This table summarizes the number of births and deaths per minute in the world, along with other information about the population.