World Population: 2020 Overview

World Population: 2020 Overview. YaleGlobal. Joseph Chamie. February 11, 2020

Understanding global demographic trends is essential for government and business planners, offering insights into resolving numerous challenges. World population growth is slightly ahead of what was projected a few years ago, reports demographer Joseph Chamie. More than half the world lives in urban areas today, and that is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050. Most population growth will continue in less developing nations while advanced economies experience population declines and greater proportions of elderly citizens due to increased life expectancy and reduced fertility rate. Chamie explains that more than 80 countries, half the world’s population, now post fertility rates below the replacement level. That leaves fewer workers available to support each individual over age 65, compelling governments and individuals to prepare for long retirements. Good planning can also prevent a variety of other hardships including food and water shortages, poverty, environmental degradation and even security crises. In 2011, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed to the value of demographics and planning. “We cannot look at one strand in isolation,” he said. “Instead, we must examine how these strands are woven together.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Automation: A Guide for Policymakers

Automation: A Guide for Policymakers. Brookings Institution. James Bessen et al. January 14, 2020.

Advancing technologies are increasingly able to fully or partially automate job tasks. These technologies range from robotics to machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence, and are being adopted across many sectors of the economy. Applications range from selecting job applicants for interviewing, picking orders in a warehouse, interpreting X-rays to diagnose disease, and automated customer service. These developments have raised concern that workers are being displaced by advancing automation technology. Indeed, over 18 recent studies predict job losses from new automation technologies, including some predictions of massive job losses (Winick 2018). A large literature on worker displacement suggests that the effects of such developments could be dire: individual workers subject to plant closings and mass layoffs experience reduced employment probabilities and wage reductions, leading to long-term earnings losses, as well as reductions in consumption and worse health outcomes. Concerns about these effects of automation have led some commentators to call for policies to directly combat mass unemployment, such as a Universal Basic Income.

But is this right? At a time when many firms are investing in automation, the unemployment rate is at historic lows. Low unemployment might seem hard to reconcile with apocalyptic predictions about mass unemployment. This paper reviews the evidence from recent studies and reports on a new paper we have written, “Automatic Reaction: What happens to workers at firms that automate” (Bessen et al. 2019). This paper is the first to take a look at what actually happens to those workers. We build on some of the findings in order to draw the implications for policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Global Social Mobility Index 2020: Why Economies Benefit from Fixing Inequality

Global Social Mobility Index 2020: Why Economies Benefit from Fixing Inequality. World Economic Forum. January 2020.

The World Economic Forum has created a new index to measure social mobility, providing a much-needed assessment of the current state of social mobility worldwide.

The headline finding of the report is that most economies are failing to provide the conditions in which their citizens can thrive, often by a large margin. As a result, an individual’s opportunities in life remain tethered to their socio-economic status at birth, entrenching historical inequalities.

This is a major problem not only for the individual, but also society and the economy. Human capital is the driving force of economic growth. As a result, anything that undermines the best allocation of talent and impedes the accumulation of human capital may significantly hamper growth. Poor social mobility coupled with inequality of opportunity underpin these frictions, suggesting that if the level of social mobility were increased, it could act as a lever to economic growth.

The Global Social Mobility Index, which benchmarks 82 global economies, is designed to provide policy-makers with a means to identify areas for improving social mobility and promoting equally shared opportunities in their economies, regardless of their development. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 218 pages].

Achieving Abundance: Understanding the Cost of a Sustainable Water Future Data

Achieving Abundance: Understanding the Cost of a Sustainable Water Future Data. World Resources Institute. Colin Strong et al.  January 2020

Population and economic growth, as well as climate change, have pushed water crises to the top of the global agenda. Given the scale of the issues, delivering sustainable water management requires rapid mobilization of funding for water-related improvements and more effective use of existing resources. The Achieving Abundance Working Paper proposes a method whereby any decision-maker can calculate the cost required to deliver sustainable water management to a geography.

The working paper calculates the cost of action required to close the gap between current conditions and desired conditions to financially compare and prioritize different water-related challenges or different targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6. The paper also estimates the costs of delivering sustainable water management for all countries and major basins—estimated globally as US$1.04 trillion (2015$) annually from 2015 to 2030. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 36 pages].

Re-Creation: A Global Strategy for Revitalizing, Adapting, and Defending a Rules-Based International System

Re-Creation: A Global Strategy for Revitalizing, Adapting, and Defending a Rules-Based International System.  Atlantic Council. Ash Jain and Matthew Kroenig. October 30, 2019.

In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the United States and other leading democracies built an international system that ushered in an almost 70-year period of remarkable peace and prosperity. Founded on democratic and open-market principles, its institutions and rules have promoted global economic growth and development, lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, and advanced the cause of freedom. After three decades of largely uncontested primacy, however, this rules-based system is now under unprecedented challenge, both from within and without. In March 2018, we launched an initiative under the auspices of the Atlantic Council aimed at revitalizing the rules-based international system and reinvigorating support for its core tenets. We were joined by a distinguished group of former officials and strategists in creating a Declaration of Principles for Freedom, Peace, and Prosperity—offering seven statements that we believe are foundational for a revitalized international system and reflect the common aspirations of the human spirit. The principles are intended to provide a clear and compelling statement of values—a “north star”—around which political leaders and the broader public can rally in demonstrating their support for the rules-based system. But principles alone are not enough. We need a new strategy—one ambitious enough to meet the moment, and one innovative enough to fit the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. In this paper, Present at the Re-Creation, Ash Jain and Matthew Kroenig propose a visionary but actionable global strategy for revitalizing, adapting, and defending the rules-based international system. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 76 pages].

Transforming Infrastructure: Frameworks for Bringing the Fourth Industrial Revolution to Infrastructure

Transforming Infrastructure: Frameworks for Bringing the Fourth Industrial Revolution to Infrastructure. World Economic Forum. November 3, 2019.

The technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have fundamentally altered society in ways both seen and unseen. This digital transformation has changed how people live and work, and everything in between. One area of daily life, however, seems to be largely missing out on this revolution: infrastructure. It remains one of the least digitally transformed sectors of the economy. While individual examples of highly advanced infrastructure systems exist, the sector at large lags behind others in innovation, a fact made all the more apparent by infrastructure’s ubiquity. When the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Infrastructure gathered for its annual meeting in Dubai in November 2018, it sought to understand why.

As it began to think through solutions, the Council found a situation full of opportunity. Infrastructure is far from being a staid industry devoid of innovation – indeed, new technologies and ideas are flourishing. Integrating these innovations, which could change the way infrastructure is designed, developed and delivered, requires aligning stakeholders, implementing effective strategies and creating fertile enabling environments. This will allow existing innovation into the space and provide opportunities for new ideas.

The Council thus decided to create a guidebook, contained here, that explores major questions about how to bring the Fourth Industrial Revolution to infrastructure. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages].