Enacted in 1979 by China’s Communist Party, the controversial “One Child Policy” was primarily meant to slow the country’s rapid population growth, while capping the growing drain on China’s limited resources.
Even though the government’s primary objectives were arguably achieved through these extreme measures, it has been at an extraordinary human cost. The draconian enforcement of these policies, combined with the unintended consequences on families and the cultural preference for male children, will have an everlasting impact on the country’s future.
Fast forward to today, and the policy is still in place, but to a lesser effect. Since early 2016, families have been allowed to have two children – but even with this change in place, China still has a self-inflicted demographic disaster on its hands.
In the below population pyramids created by Aron Strandberg, the very different trajectories of China and India are compared directly. China is not only skewing older and more male – it is also losing its strong base of younger workers that could potentially support the rest of the population.
China’s “population pyramid” is not really a pyramid at all – in the coming decades, it’ll look more like a single pillar stuck propping up a burgeoning elderly demographic of people born before 1979.
And over time, the unintended and ongoing effects of population control will be extremely impactful on China’s future. As one example of the emerging challenges, a recent estimate published in Scientific American pegged China’s shortage of women at 62 million, creating a situation where there’ll be millions of men who are unable to marry.
This gender imbalance exacerbates an already existing shortfall at the younger end of China’s population spectrum – and the end result will be a rapidly falling ratio of workers to retirees in the Chinese economy:
Today, the ratio is roughly seven workers per retiree – and by 2050, when China’s population is 100 million people fewer than it is today, there will be just two workers per retiree.
A New Population Paradigm
As China struggles with a declining population and a lack of young people, India is expected to takes its place as the most populous country in the world by roughly 2027.
This new paradigm will be an incredibly interesting one to watch.
By the year 2100, China won’t be home to a single one of the world’s 20 most populous cities.
Instead, these massive metropolises will almost exclusively be located in places like India and Africa – and some of them, like Mumbai, will hold 60 million or more inhabitants.
China’s New Hope
While this shift in global demographics is going to be extremely difficult to deal with for China, there is optimism that increasing levels of automation and the emergence of artificial intelligence will help make up for any shortfalls.
The AI market alone is expected to drive $7 trillion in GDP growth by 2030, and China’s investments in robotics and automation are sure to keep the country a center of manufacturing in the future – even if those factories are being staffed with robots instead of workers.
Ranking the World’s Most Populous Cities, Over 500 Years of History
This two-minute animation shows changes in the last 500 years of historical rankings for the world’s 10 most populous cities.
Animation: The Most Populous Cities, Over 500 Years
What do Beijing, Tokyo, Istanbul, London, and New York City all have in common?
Not only are they all world-class cities that still serve as global hubs of commerce, but these cities also share a relatively rare and important historical designation.
At specific points in history, each of these cities outranked all others on the planet in terms of population, granting them the exclusive title as the single most populated city globally.
Ranking the World’s Most Populous Cities
Today’s animation comes to us from John Burn-Murdoch with the Financial Times, and it visualizes cities ranked by population in a bar chart race over the course of a 500-year timeframe.
Beijing starts in the lead in the year 1500, with a population of 672,000:
|Rank||City||Population in Year 1500|
In the 16th century, which is where the animation starts, cities in China and India were dominant in terms of population.
In China, the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Nanjing all made the top 10 list, while India itself held two of the most populous cities at the time, Vijayanagar and Gauda.
If the latter two names sound unfamiliar, that’s because they were key historical locations in the Vijayanagara and Bengal Empires respectively, but neither are the sites of modern-day cities.
The 1 Million Mark
For the first minute of animation—and up until the late 18th century—not a single city was able to eclipse the 1 million person mark.
However, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the floodgates opened up. With more efficient agricultural practices, better sanitation, and other technological improvements, cities were able to support bigger populations.
Here’s a look at the biggest cities in the year 1895:
|Rank||City||Population in Year 1895|
|#2||🇺🇸 New York||3,712,000|
|#6||🇷🇺 St. Petersburg||1,286,000|
In the span of roughly a century, all of the world’s biggest cities were able to pass the 1 million mark, making it no longer a particularly exclusive milestone.
Modern City Populations
Finally, let’s look at the modern list of the top 10 most populous cities, and see how it compares to rankings from previous years:
|Rank||City||Population in Year 2018|
|#6||🇧🇷 Sao Paulo||21,698,000|
|#7||🇲🇽 Mexico City||21,520,000|
|#10||🇺🇸 New York City||18,713,000|
Interestingly, the modern list appears to be a blend of both previous rankings from the years 1500 and 1895, listed above.
In 2018, cities from China and India feature prominently, but New York City and Tokyo are also included. Meanwhile, Latin America has entered the fold with entries from Mexico and Brazil.
The Future of Megacities
If you think the modern list of the most populous cities is impressive, check out how the world’s megacities are expected to develop as we move towards the end of the 21st century.
How Different Generations Think About Investing
Each generation was shaped by unique circumstances, and these differences translate directly to the investing world as well.
How Different Generations Think About Investing
View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here
Every generation thinks about investing a little differently.
This is partially due to the fact that each cohort finds itself on a distinct leg of life’s journey. While boomers focus on retirement, Gen Zers are thinking about education and careers. As a result, it’s not surprising to find that investment objectives can differ by age group.
However, there are other major reasons that contribute to each unique generational view. For example, what major world events shaped the mindset of each generation? Also, what role did culture play, and how do things like economic cycles factor in?
Finding Generational Discrepancies
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it showcases some of the most significant differences in how generations think about investing.
Let’s dive into some of the most interesting data:
1. Investment Outlook
The majority of millennials (66%) are confident about investment opportunities in the next 12 months. This drops down to 49% when boomers are asked the same question.
How did different generations of investors react to recent bouts of volatility in the market?
- 82% of millennials made changes to their portfolios
- 69% of Gen X made changes
- 47% of boomers made changes
- 32% of the Silent Generation made changes
3. Knowledge and Ability
In terms of investment knowledge, 42% of millennials considered themselves to be experts in the field. On the same question, only 23% of boomers could say the same.
4. Financial Goals
Back when they were 27 years old, 45% of Gen Xers said their primary goal was to buy a home. Compare this to just 23% of millennials that consider a home to be their primary investment objective today.
5. Managing Investments
The majority of millennials (66%) saw the ability to manage all aspects of personal finance, including investments, in the same app as being important. Only 35% of boomers agreed.
Similarly, 67% of millennials saw recommendations made by artificial intelligence as being a basic part of any investment platform. Both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were more hesitant, with 30% seeing computer-based recommendations as being integral.
6. Impact Investing
Millennials are twice as interested in ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing, compared to their boomer counterparts. In fact, the majority of millennials (66%) choose funds according to ESG considerations.
Reasons for Not Investing
While generations may have varying investment philosophies, they seem a little more in sync when it comes to having reasons not to invest.
|Recognize future outlook would be better if they start investing||72%||73%||57%|
|Want to try out investing with a low money commitment||35%||31%||25%|
|Afraid of losing everything||42%||29%||28%|
|Too worried about current financial situation to think about future||49%||46%||32%|
|Find information about investing difficult to understand||63%||59%||55%|
|Don't have enough money to start investing||55%||59%||56%|
There are some similarities in the data here – for example, non-investors of all generations seem to have an equally tough time learning about investing, and similar proportions do not believe they have the funds to start investing.
On the flipside, it seems that millennials are more worried about their financial future, while simultaneously seeing a risk of “losing everything” stemming from investing.
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