Demographics still tell a story

It’s important to understand a country’s population, or your own market


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Tony Paradiso of Wilton is an author, professor, entrepreneur, radio and TV commentator. His website is tonyparadiso.com.

Today marketing is all about psychographics, analytics, social media, mobile, blah blah blah. But I’m old school, and I still believe demographics should be the focus because they are not only critical in understanding your customer pool, but also your talent pool. And no matter how the world evolves, fundamentally, success in business still relies on your workforce and your customers.

Over the coming decades, demographics will also determine which country will emerge as the world’s leading economy. Today all eyes focus on China, and rightfully so. But demographics point to the possibility that China’s reign in the top spot may be short-lived.

Many may think that the demographics of any country are only factors for larger businesses that export, but that’s only partially true. Companies that export derive a direct benefit from international markets, but smaller, local businesses often feed off the success of larger companies that are becoming increasingly reliant on exports.

Still, for many New Hampshire businesses the primary concern is with the local population. That’s true for my business, which depends on a combination of local tradesmen and the population within the immediate surrounding geography.

So what are the key issues with respect to New Hampshire’s demographics? According to the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, the good news is that our population is growing faster than any other Northeast state. The bad news is that our 6.5 percent growth rate is well below the national average, meaning that we are the prettiest pig at the regional ball. Given that the easiest way to grow a business is to leverage population growth, we’ll need to look elsewhere.

Many believe New Hampshire is an “old” state, but that’s not currently the case. Our senior population ranks in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, demographic trends indicate that, age-wise, we’re heading to the top of the list.

The Carsey Institute estimates that the number of people 65 or older in New Hampshire will double in the next two decades. Worse yet, there is a lack of growth in the number of children and young adults. Unless you’re in the health care business, that might not be welcome news.

There’s much more detail in the Carsey Institute’s report, “New Hampshire’s Demographic Trends in the Twenty-First Century,” which can be downloaded at http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/. I recommend everyone review the report because it could be helpful in your business planning process.

 

India vs. China

 

But now I want to turn my attention back to the global stage, to a country other than China, whose demographics indicate they are the economy to watch. That country is India.

Today, both countries boast populations in excess of 1 billion and have similar demographics. The sheer size of their respective populations dictates that if they continue to develop a middle class, both countries will someday become major economic powers.

But who will be Number One?

In the long run, my money is on India and the reason is … demographics. That’s because China’s one-child policy -- a population control strategy enacted in the 1980s -- will come home to roost by limiting its future working-age population. There are, of course, many other layers of complexity, but as I previously stated, fundamentally it’s about demographics.

Consider this: By 2035, India’s working-age population will surpass China’s. And by mid-century, the average age in China will be close to 50.

I hope they have a good health care system in place by then.


 

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