10 demographic trends that are shaping our world

Globe with pushpinsDemographic trends have always fascinated me, not just as factoids to be used in a clever infographic, but as vital intelligence that can help us better understand consumers, target markets and engage customers.

A few weeks ago, the Pew Research Center published “10 demographic trends that are shaping the U.S. and the world,” essential reading for anyone seeking insight into how our world is changing.

Here’s a summary of those top 10 trends. I recommend viewing the full article, written by D’Vera Cohn, because it has some very good charts.

  1. Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades. By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.

  2. Asia has replaced Latin America (including Mexico) as the biggest source of new immigrants to the U.S. In a reversal of one of the largest mass migrations in modern history, net migration flows from Mexico to the U.S. turned negative between 2009 and 2014, as more Mexicans went home than arrived in the U.S.

  3. America’s demographic changes are shifting the electorate—and American politics. The 2016 electorate will be the most diverse in U.S. history due to strong growth among Hispanic eligible voters, particularly U.S.-born youth.

  4. Millennials, young adults born after 1980, are the new generation to watch. They have likely surpassed Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) as the largest U.S. generation and differ significantly from their elders in many ways. They are the most racially diverse generation in American history: 43% of Millennial adults are non-white, the highest share of any generation.

  5. Women’s role in the labor force and leadership positions has grown dramatically. The labor force participation rate for American women has risen steadily since the 1960s. In fact, mothers were the sole or primary breadwinner in a record 40% of all households with children in 2011.

  6. The American family is changing. After decades of declining marriage rates, the share of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high. Two-parent households are on the decline in the U.S., while divorce, remarriage and cohabitation are on the rise. About one-in-six American kids now live in a blended family. And the roles of mothers and fathers are converging, due in part to the rise of breadwinner moms.

  7. The share of Americans who live in middle class households is shrinking. The share of U.S. adults living in middle-income households fell to 50% in 2015, after more than four decades in which those households served as the nation’s economic majority.

  8. Christians are declining as a share of the U.S. population, and the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion has grown. While the U.S. remains home to more Christians than any other country, the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian dropped from 78% in 2007 to 71% in 2014. By contrast, the religiously unaffiliated have surged seven percentage points in that time span to make up 23% of U.S. adults last year.

  9. The world’s religious makeup will look a lot different by 2050: Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion, mostly because Muslims are younger and have more children than any other religious group globally.

  10. The world is aging. The demographic future for the U.S. and the world looks very different from the recent past. Growth from 1950 to 2010 was rapid — the global population nearly tripled, and the U.S. population doubled. However, population growth from 2010 to 2050 is projected to be significantly slower and is expected to tilt strongly to the oldest age groups, both globally and in the U.S.

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