Published in El Pais, October 19th 2019.
In 2034, in Bolivia the number of people over 65 years old will have increased with 27% compared to 2019. In addition, the number of persons under 20 years will have decreased with 14%. How will this happen? Well, first, the quality of life and the quality of health care is improving. Work is becoming less dangerous and thus the people will reach a higher age. But also, families will have less children, which is a development we see in many countries around the world as the economy develops. Most of you probably have less siblings than your parents and most likely your parents will reach a higher age that your grandparents.
Although 15 years seems far way, this is something that happens gradually and as so often with things that happen gradually, we probably won’t notice it easily. I want to point out two things that will become opportunities for companies and politicians.
Governments will need to take the older people serious. They will become a more critical mass with their needs and thus political power. If you also consider that the new elderly are not persons that just stay at home in houses all day, but are physically active, it is required to take them seriously into account. They will use their political power to enhance their quality of life. Let us also not forget that the pension system will need to adjust to a higher number of elderlies that will receive benefits.
Second what happens when there are less children? It will affect classes and maybe entire schools. In other words, in the next 15 years primary schools will need 14% less capacity, less teachers, less infrastructure, less books etc. The same might be for certain baby and kid products. It might even affect certain health centers and hospitals, although that one might still increase due to economic development and a higher demand.
Nevertheless, if you are a politician it is necessary to take these shifts in Bolivia’s demography into account. Institutions will need to change and adjust. It might be easy to think that it will take a long time, and postpone it, but once the moment arrives it is not something that can be fixed overnight. In the case you have a business, it might even affect you, or maybe you will able to see big opportunities. The point is, knowing how the populations demographic composition changes gives you a head start for creating policies and can give you a competitive advantage.