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Prediction Consensus: What the Experts See Coming in 2021

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prediction consensus 2021

2021 Predictions: What Experts See in the Year Ahead

Making predictions is a tricky business at the best of times, but especially so after a year of upheaval. Even so, that didn’t stop people from trying their hand at reading the crystal ball. If anything, the uncertainty creates a stronger temptation for us to try to forecast the year ahead.

Out of the thousands of public 2021 predictions and forecasts available, there are plenty of one-off guesses. However, things really get interesting when a desperate majority of experts begin to agree on what might happen. In some ways, these predictions from influential experts and firms have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophesies, so it’s worth paying attention even if we’re skeptical about the assertions being made.

This year, we more than doubled the number of sources analyzed for our 2021 Predictions Consensus graphic, including outlooks from financial institutions, thought leaders, media outlets, consultancies, and more. Let’s take a closer look at seven of the most popular predictions:

ESG reaches a tipping point

It seems like only recently that the term ESG gained mainstream traction in the investment community, but in a short amount of time, the trend has blossomed into a full-blown societal shift. In 2020, investors piled a record $27.7 billion of inflows into ETFs traded in U.S. markets, and that momentum only appears to be growing.

prediction consensus esg

Fidelity, among others, noted that climate funds are delivering superior returns, which makes ESG an even easier sell to investors. Nasdaq has tapped ESG to be “one of the hottest trends” over the coming year.

China has a strong 2021

Financial institutions that issue predictions generally hedge their language quite a bit, but on this topic they were direct. The world’s most populous country has already left the pandemic behind and is back to business as usual. Of the institutions that mentioned a specific number, the median estimate for GDP growth in China was 8.4%.

prediction consensus china

A souring outlook on SPACs

Much like any hot trend, once enough people get on the bandwagon the mood begins to sour. Many experts believe that special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are going to enter that phase in 2021.

prediction consensus spacs

SPACs had a monster year in 2020, raising $82 billion in capital. That’s more funds in one year than in the last 10 years combined. Of course, now that these 200+ companies are flush with capital, they’ll need to find a target. Scott Galloway argues that SPACs “are going to vastly underperform over the next two to three years” since there aren’t enough good opportunities to satisfy that level of demand.

Brands must be authentic and values-driven

Over the past few years, brands have become increasingly values-driven. In their 2021 predictions, experts see this trend being pushed even further.

Millennials, which are now the largest generation in the workforce, are shaping society in their own image, and the expectation is that companies have an authentic voice and that actions align with words. This trend is augmented by the transparency that the internet and social media have enabled.

prediction consensus values-driven companies

Being a “values-driven” company can mean many things, and often involves focusing on a number of initiatives simultaneously. At the forefront is racial inequality and diversity initiatives, which were a key focus in 2020. According to McKinsey, nine out of ten employees globally believe companies should engage in diversity and inclusion initiatives. When the chorus of voices grows loud enough, eventually actions must follow.

A great rethinking of office life is underway

The great work-from-home experiment will soon be approaching the one-year mark and a lot has changed in a short amount of time.

Even firms that were incredibly resistant to remote work found themselves in a position of having to adapt to new circumstances thanks to COVID-19. Now that the feasibility of at-home work has been proven, it will be tough for companies to walk things back to pre-pandemic times. Over 2021, millions of companies will begin reengineering everything from physical offices to digital infrastructure, and this has broad implications on the economy and our culture.

prediction consensus rethinking office life

Individuals and employers start taking wellness seriously

The past year was not good for our collective mental health. In response, many companies are looking at ways to support employees from a health and wellness standpoint. One example is the trend of giving teams access to meditation apps like Headspace and Calm.

prediction consensus wellness

This focus on wellness will persist, even as people begin to return to the office. As commercial leases expire in 2021, companies will be re-evaluating their office needs, and many experts believe that wellness will factor into those decisions.

Lastly, this trend ties into the broader theme of values-driven companies. If brands profess a desire to impact society in a positive way, employees expect actions to extend inward as well.

Big Tech backlash continues

Among experts, there’s little doubt that the Big Tech backlash will bleed over into 2021. There is a divergence of opinion on exactly what will happen as a result. There are three general themes:

    1. 1. Regulators will admonish and threaten Big Tech publicly, but nothing concrete will happen.
      2. Facebook will be broken up into parts (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp)
      3. Companies will proactively change their business practices and look for ways to settle quickly
  • prediction consensus tech-backlash

    Aside from the thread of regulatory action, the tech sector is facing a bit of an identity crisis. Silicon Valley is grappling with the reality that the center of gravity is shifting. Pitchbook notes that Bay Area will fall below 20% of U.S. deal count for first time, and there have been very public departures from the valley in recent months.

    Faced with pressure from a number of different angles, the technology sector may have a year of soul-searching ahead.

    The Elephant in the Room

    COVID-19 is the one factor that impacts nearly every one of these 2021 predictions, yet, there were few predictions–and certainly no consensus from experts–on vaccine rollouts and case counts. It’s possible that the complexity of the pandemic and the enormous task of dealing with this public health crisis makes it too much of a moving target to predict in specific terms.

    In general though, expert opinions on when we’ll return to a more “normal” stage again range from the summer of 2021 to the start of 2022. With the exception of China, most major economies are still grappling with outbreaks and the resulting economic fallout.

    It remains to be seen whether COVID-19 will dominate 2022’s predictions, or whether we’ll be able to look beyond the pandemic era.

    The Good Stuff: Sources We Like

    Of the hundreds of sources we looked at, here were a few that stood out as memorable and comprehensive:

    Bloomberg’s Outlook 2021
    : This article compiled over 500 predictions from Wall Street banks and investment firms.

    Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway’s Big 2021 Predictions: Swisher and Galloway combine their deep understanding of the technology ecosystem with frank (and hilarious) commentary to come up with some of the most plausible predictions of 2021. From Robinhood to Twitter, they cover a lot of ground in this interview.

    Crystal Ball 2021: Fortune’s annual batch of predictions is always one to watch. It’s comprehensive, succinct, and hits upon a wide variety of topics.

    John Battelle’s Predictions 2021: John Battelle has been publishing annual predictions for nearly two decades, and this year’s batch is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated. His predictions are thoughtful, credible, and specific. It’s also worth noting that Battelle circles back and grades his predictions – a level of accountability that is to be praised.

    Like this feature? An expanded look at 2021’s predictions will be shared with our VC+ audience later this month.

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    World Beer Index 2021: What’s the Beer Price in Your Country?

    The global desire for beer prevails even in a pandemic. These maps compare the average beer price in 58 countries—just how much do we drink?

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    What’s the Beer Price in Your Country?

    View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

    Although fewer people have been able to grab a beer at the pub during this pandemic, the global desire for beer prevails. For example, sales of the Corona beer actually shot up in the past year, despite—or perhaps because of—associations with the coronavirus.

    This World Beer Index from Expensivity compares the average price of a bottle of beer in 58 countries in a detailed map. Additionally, we show which countries spend the most on beer per capita, and just how much beer people really drink.

    Pricey Pints: The Average Beer Price

    Researchers calculated the average price of a typical bottle of beer (330ml, just shy of a pint) from well known brands via online stores and statistics database Numbeo. In addition, local beer prices were pulled from hotel and bar menus, and average values converted to USD.

    In Qatar, you’d have to shell out $11.26 for a single beer, which would surely make for a really expensive night out on the town. In part, this is because in 2019, the Muslim-majority country introduced a 100% excise tax on top the previous sales price of all alcohol imports.

    These steep prices are aimed at tourists—and with Qatar hosting the 2022 men’s soccer World Cup, there’ll be thousands of visitors in the country looking for a cold one at any price.

    RankCountryCapital CityAverage Price of a Beer
    1South AfricaPretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town$1.68
    2UkraineKyiv$1.76
    3ArgentinaBuenos Aires$1.79
    4Bosnia And HerzegovinaSarajevo$1.96
    5GhanaAccra$2.05
    6TunisiaTunis$2.09
    7GeorgiaTbilisi$2.30
    8North MacedoniaSkopje$2.34
    9ChileSantiago$2.40
    10Czech Republic (Czechia)Prague$2.49
    11RwandaKigali$2.52
    12BrazilBrasilia$2.52
    13HaitiPort Au Prince$2.66
    14ColombiaBogota$2.72
    15SpainMadrid$2.74
    16PanamaPanama City$2.74
    17Sri LankaColombo$2.77
    18HungaryBudapest$2.84
    19ArmeniaYerevan$2.96
    20IndonesiaJakarta$3.17
    21AzerbaijanBaku$3.18
    22GuyanaGeorgetown$3.39
    23BoliviaSanta Cruz$3.42
    24KazakhstanNur-Sultan$3.44
    25BelgiumBrussels$3.47
    26TurkeyIstanbul$3.61
    27MaltaValletta$3.65
    28BelarusMinsk$3.72
    29EgyptCairo$3.80
    30IndiaNew Delhi$3.90
    31CanadaOttawa$3.96
    32AustriaVienna$3.99
    33WalesCardiff$4.06
    34NepalKathmandu$4.13
    35ScotlandEdinburgh$4.18
    36GreeceAthens$4.25
    37PhilippinesManila$4.25
    38PolandWarsaw$4.37
    39MexicoMexcio City$4.46
    40LithuaniaVilnius$4.55
    41South KoreaSeoul$4.56
    42NetherlandsAmsterdam$4.60
    43GermanyBerlin$4.64
    44MalaysiaKuala Lumpur$4.74
    45United StatesWashington D.C.$4.75
    46ThailandBangkok$4.82
    47PortugalLisbon$5.06
    48RussiaMoscow$5.08
    49SingaporeSingapore$5.17
    50DenmarkCopenhagen$5.20
    51ItalyRome$5.83
    52EnglandLondon$5.97
    53JapanTokyo$6.16
    54SwitzerlandBern$6.23
    55FranceParis$6.39
    56ChinaBeijing$7.71
    57JordanAmman$9.40
    58QatarDoha$11.26

    At just $1.68 per bottle, South Africa has the lowest average beer price thanks at least partially to cultural norms of buying in bulk.

    Cashing In: The Per Capita Spend on Beer

    The price of a single beer is one thing, but which countries spend the most on beer itself? Germany unsurprisingly tops the list here with nearly $2,000 of expenditures per capita, bolstered by its strong beer culture and annual Oktoberfest celebration.

    Germany also prides itself on the purity of its beer—the vast majority of brewers follow the Reinheitsgebot, centuries-old purity laws that broadly state that beer may contain only three ingredients: water, barley, and hops.

    World Beer Index 2021 - Per Capita Spend on Beer 820px
    View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

    Following closely behind is Poland, which spends $1,738 per capita. Meanwhile, the U.S. ranks eighth in the world for the highest spending on beer per capita at $1,554—beer is also the country’s most popular alcoholic beverage.

    Getting Boozy: How Much Beer Do People Drink?

    Using data from the World Health Organization, the visualization below also digs into how much beer is consumed around the world per capita.

    The Czech Republic emerges on top in this regard, with 468 beers on average in a year—that works out to 1.3 beers per day. Spain and Germany are next with 417 and 411 beers, respectively.

    World Beer Index 2021 - Per Capita Beer Consumption 820px
    View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

    On the flip side, people in Haiti only drink about four beers yearly. This may be because they prefer something a little stronger—97% of alcohol consumption in the nation comes from spirits such as rum.

    Beer has been around for over 7,000 years. No matter the beer price in your country, it’s worth raising a glass to the timelessness of this humble beverage.

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    The Population of China in Perspective

    China is the world’s most populous country. But how does the population of China compare to the rest of the world?

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    population of china

    The Population of China in Perspective

    China is the world’s most populous country with an astounding 1.44 billion citizens. Altogether, the size of the population of China is larger than nearly four regions combined: South America, Europe (excluding Russia), the U.S. & Canada, and Australia & New Zealand.

    Using data from the United Nations, this unconventional map reveals the comparative size of China’s population next to a multitude of other countries.

    Note: To keep the visualization easy to read, we’ve simplified the shapes representing countries. For example, although we’ve included Alaska and Hawaii in U.S. population totals, the U.S. is represented by the contiguous states map only.

    A Historical Perspective

    Looking at history, the population of China has more than doubled since the 1950s. The country was the first in the world to hit one billion people in 1980.

    However, in 1979, in an attempt to control the burgeoning population, the infamous one-child policy was introduced, putting controls on how many children Chinese citizens could have.

    While the government eventually recognized the negative implications of this policy, it appeared to be too little, too late. The two-child policy was introduced in 2016, but it has not yet reversed the current slowdown in population growth.

    YearChina's Population (Millions)Annual Rate of Growth (%)Median AgeFertility Rate
    1955612.22.00%22.26.11
    1960660.41.53%21.35.48
    1965724.21.86%19.86.15
    1970827.62.70%19.36.30
    1975926.22.28%20.34.85
    19801,000.11.55%21.93.01
    19851,075.61.47%23.52.52
    19901,176.91.82%24.92.73
    19951,240.91.07%27.41.83
    20001,290.60.79%30.01.62
    20051,330.80.62%32.61.61
    20101,368.80.57%35.01.62
    20151,406.80.55%36.71.64
    20161,414.00.51%37.01.65
    20171,421.00.49%37.01.65
    20181,427.60.47%37.01.65
    20191,433.80.43%37.01.65
    20201,439.30.39%38.41.69

    The fertility rate has been consistently falling from over 6 births per woman in 1955 to 1.69 in 2020. Today, the median age in China is 38 years old, rising from 22 in 1955. Longer life spans and fewer births form a demographic trend that has many social and economic implications.

    Overall, China’s young population is becoming scarcer, meaning that the domestic labor market will eventually begin shrinking. Additionally, the larger share of elderly citizens will require publicly-funded resources, resulting in a heavier societal and financial burden.

    Strength in Numbers

    Despite these trends, however, China’s current population remains massive, constituting almost 20% of the world’s total population. Right now 71% of the Chinese population is between the ages of 15 and 65 years old, meaning that the labor supply is still immense.

    Here are the populations of 65 countries from various regions of the world—and added together, you’ll see they still fall short of the population of China:

    CountryPopulation Region
    🇺🇸 U.S.331,002,651North America
    🇨🇦 Canada37,742,154North America
    🇧🇷 Brazil212,559,417South America
    🇨🇴 Colombia50,882,891South America
    🇦🇷 Argentina45,195,774South America
    🇵🇪 Peru32,971,854South America
    🇻🇪 Venezuela28,435,940South America
    🇨🇱 Chile19,116,201South America
    🇪🇨 Ecuador17,643,054South America
    🇧🇴 Bolivia11,673,021South America
    🇵🇾 Paraguay7,132,538South America
    🇺🇾 Uruguay3,473,730South America
    🇬🇾 Guyana786,552South America
    🇸🇷 Suriname586,632South America
    🇬🇫 French Guyana298,682South America
    🇫🇰 Falkland Islands3,480South America
    🇦🇺 Australia25,499,884Oceania
    🇳🇿 New Zealand4,822,233Oceania
    🇩🇪 Germany83,783,942Europe
    🇫🇷 France65,273,511Europe
    🇳🇱 Netherlands17,134,872Europe
    🇧🇪 Belgium11,589,623Europe
    🇦🇹 Austria9,006,398Europe
    🇨🇭 Switzerland8,654,622Europe
    🇱🇺 Luxembourg625,978Europe
    🇲🇨 Monaco39,242Europe
    🇱🇮 Liechtenstein38,128Europe
    🇮🇹 Italy60,461,826Europe
    🇪🇸 Spain46,754,778Europe
    🇬🇷 Greece10,423,054Europe
    🇵🇹 Portugal10,196,709Europe
    🇷🇸 Serbia8,737,371Europe
    🇭🇷 Croatia4,105,267Europe
    🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina3,280,819Europe
    🇦🇱 Albania2,877,797Europe
    🇲🇰 North Macedonia2,083,374Europe
    🇸🇮 Slovenia2,078,938Europe
    🇲🇪 Montenegro628,066Europe
    🇲🇹 Malta441,543Europe
    🇦🇩 Andorra77,265Europe
    🇸🇲 San Marino33,931Europe
    🇬🇮 Gibraltar33,691Europe
    🇻🇦 Vatican City801Europe
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom67,886,011Europe
    🇸🇪 Sweden10,099,265Europe
    🇩🇰 Denmark5,792,202Europe
    🇫🇮 Finland5,540,720Europe
    🇳🇴 Norway5,421,241Europe
    🇮🇪 Ireland4,937,786Europe
    🇱🇹 Lithuania2,722,289Europe
    🇱🇻 Latvia1,886,198Europe
    🇪🇪 Estonia1,326,535Europe
    🇮🇸 Iceland341,243Europe
    Channel Islands173,863Europe
    🇮🇲 Isle of Man85,033Europe
    🇫🇴 Faroe Islands48,863Europe
    🇺🇦 Ukraine43,733,762Europe
    🇵🇱 Poland37,846,611Europe
    🇷🇴 Romania19,237,691Europe
    🇨🇿 Czechia10,708,981Europe
    🇭🇺 Hungary9,660,351Europe
    🇧🇾 Belarus9,449,323Europe
    🇧🇬 Bulgaria6,948,445Europe
    🇸🇰 Slovakia5,459,642Europe
    🇲🇩 Moldova4,033,963Europe
    Total1,431,528,252

    To break it down even further, here’s a look at the population of each of the regions listed above:

    • Australia and New Zealand: 30.3 million
    • Europe (excluding Russia): 601.7 million
    • South America: 430.8 million
    • The U.S. and Canada: 368.7 million

    Combined their population is 1.432 billion compared to China’s 1.439 billion.

    Overall, the population of China has few comparables. India is one exception, with a population of 1.38 billion. As a continent, Africa comes in close as well at 1.34 billion people. Here’s a breakdown of Africa’s population for further comparison.

    CountryPopulation Region
    🇳🇬 Nigeria206,139,589Africa
    🇬🇭 Ghana31,072,940Africa
    🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire26,378,274Africa
    🇳🇪 Niger24,206,644Africa
    🇧🇫 Burkina Faso20,903,273Africa
    🇲🇱 Mali20,250,833Africa
    🇸🇳 Senegal16,743,927Africa
    🇬🇳 Guinea13,132,795Africa
    🇧🇯 Benin12,123,200Africa
    🇹🇬 Togo8,278,724Africa
    🇸🇱 Sierra Leone7,976,983Africa
    🇱🇷 Liberia5,057,681Africa
    🇲🇷 Mauritania4,649,658Africa
    🇬🇲 Gambia2,416,668Africa
    🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau1,968,001Africa
    🇨🇻 Cabo Verde555,987Africa
    🇸🇭 Saint Helena6,077Africa
    🇿🇦 South Africa59,308,690Africa
    🇳🇦 Namibia2,540,905Africa
    🇧🇼 Botswana2,351,627Africa
    🇱🇸 Lesotho2,142,249Africa
    🇸🇿 Eswatini1,160,164Africa
    🇪🇬 Egypt102,334,404Africa
    🇩🇿 Algeria43,851,044Africa
    🇸🇩 Sudan43,849,260Africa
    🇲🇦 Morocco36,910,560Africa
    🇹🇳 Tunisia11,818,619Africa
    🇱🇾 Libya6,871,292Africa
    🇪🇭 Western Sahara597,339Africa
    🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo89,561,403Africa
    🇦🇴 Angola32,866,272Africa
    🇨🇲 Cameroon26,545,863Africa
    🇹🇩 Chad16,425,864Africa
    🇨🇬 Congo5,518,087Africa
    🇨🇫 Central African Republic4,829,767Africa
    🇬🇦 Gabon2,225,734Africa
    🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea1,402,985Africa
    🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe219,159Africa
    🇪🇹 Ethiopia114,963,588Africa
    🇹🇿 Tanzania59,734,218Africa
    🇰🇪 Kenya53,771,296Africa
    🇺🇬 Uganda45,741,007Africa
    🇲🇿 Mozambique31,255,435Africa
    🇲🇬 Madagascar27,691,018Africa
    🇲🇼 Malawi19,129,952Africa
    🇿🇲 Zambia18,383,955Africa
    🇸🇴 Somalia15,893,222Africa
    🇿🇼 Zimbabwe14,862,924Africa
    🇷🇼 Rwanda12,952,218Africa
    🇧🇮 Burundi11,890,784Africa
    🇸🇸 South Sudan11,193,725Africa
    🇪🇷 Eritrea3,546,421Africa
    🇲🇺 Mauritius1,271,768Africa
    🇩🇯 Djibouti988,000Africa
    🇷🇪 Réunion895,312Africa
    🇰🇲 Comoros869,601Africa
    🇾🇹 Mayotte272,815Africa
    🇸🇨 Seychelles98,347Africa
    Total1,340,598,147

    Future Outlook on the Population of China

    Whether or not China’s population growth is slowing appears to be less relevant when looking at its sheer size. While India is expected to match the country’s population by 2026, China will remain one of the world’s largest economic powerhouses regardless.

    It is estimated, however, that the population of China will drop below one billion people by the year 2100—bumping the nation to third place in the ranking of the world’s most populous countries. At the same time, it’s possible that China’s economic dominance may be challenged by these same demographic tailwinds as time moves forward.

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