Previously published on Insights.

Shifting trends and the demographic behavior of developed and developing countries are key variables that have prompted economists to study the evolution of the global population model. Although the differences between developed and developing societies have diminished over time, generating clear economic impacts, the two population models are not expected to converge for a very long time.


Population is a key variable that will shape the economies and societies of the future. The importance of population is evident not only in the demographically advanced societies of the developed world but also in less-developed societies that are still in transition. Because of important changes in all of these societies over the past several decades, the current global population model looks nothing like it did in the mid-20thcentury. The model has changed beyond recognition and will do so again in the medium and long term.

This article outlines seven macrotrends that are shaping the evolution of our still-diverse world at the global scale and highlights key characteristics of the two major demographic models that encompass most of the world’s territories.


Macrotrends are processes that are taking place to some degree all over the world. The existence of these trends indicates that demographic behavior has become globalized to a certain extent. The following are the seven main macrotrends that are shaping the evolution of the global population:

  1. Population grow this clearly slowing down. The global growth rate is currently 1.2%, down from 2.1% in 1950. Despite this slowdown, growth remains strong in absolute terms. In 2018, the global population was 7.621 billion people, but by 2050 it will be around 9.8 billion. Nevertheless, with so many variables in play, such predictions amount to little more than a thought experiment.
  2. The death rate is decreasing overall, although because of the aging process this trend has reversed in some countries.
  3. The birth rate is dropping across the board, with the global average falling from 5 children per woman in 1950 to 2.4 in 2018.
  4. Infant mortality—that is, the death rate for children less than a year old—is falling. Life expectancy at birth is on the rise. Besides being good demographic indicators, these trends also indicate a population’s level of social development.
  5. Migration is intensifying and, to a certain degree, becoming globalized. Nevertheless, in relative terms, the current rate—migrants account for 3.2% of the world population—is just a fraction of what it was during the first big migration wave of the 19thand early 20thcenturies (8%).
  6. The global population is aging, although there are still significant differences in age structure between populations.
  7. Urbanization is continuing to increase—more than 50% of people now live in urban areas—and this trend is especially strong in developing countries.

Although these macrotrends are generally present throughout the world, we can still identify two major models: 1) demographically advanced countries that have completed their transition and have a relatively stable population, and 2) less-developed countries in various stages of evolution, which will eventually reach similar levels—and will do so more quickly than today’s advanced countries did.

Keep on reading the entire article on Insights.

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