Population Boom or Bust? | Darrell Bricker’s Empty Planet

We’ve all seen the movies – a dystopian future where humanity’s population has grown out of control. The earth’s natural resources have wiped out, plunging the earth into a Mad Max like desert or resulting in “excess” people being sent into space in search of another planet to call home. Thankfully new data shows a population boom isn’t on the horizon anytime soon… Instead, there’s a different threat facing organizations around the globe:


This will cause massive disruptions for businesses, the economy & society as a whole, leading us to wonder:
• What will shifting demographics mean for the target consumers of the future?
• How can governments prop up an aging population with fewer young people?
• With fewer workers available, how do organizations address staffing shortages?
• How will social security & healthcare cope with the added stress?

Data-Backed Insights

As the CEO of the world’s leading social and opinion research firm, Darrell Bricker has the data to help organizations future-proof their strategy in the face of a shrinking population. At IPSOS Public Affairs, he leads an international research team of experts designing and managing complex multi-country social research studies using a full range of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Their global network spans 89 countries and has fieldwork capabilities in almost every country in the world.

Darrell explores global population decline in his brand new book (co-authored by John Ibbitson) & keynote presentation Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline.

According to Darrell’s research, we’re looking at a population bust around 2050, at which time earth’s population will begin declining – and quickly.

What’s behind this impending population contraction & how should organizations prepare themselves for this demographic shift? His new talk helps audiences adjust their strategy:

Brand New Global Population Presentation

In his new presentation Darrell explains the three root causes of our soon to be decreasing population:

• Fertility // In order to replace its population, a country’s fertility rate needs to be 2.1 kids per woman. One for herself, one for her partner & a little extra for those who can’t and to offset childhood mortality. The majority of countries are below this number (some as low as 1.4). As life expectancy increases, humans are getting better at keeping people alive, but worse at actually making new people. 

• Urbanization // The largest migration in our time is people leaving life on the farm to move into the city. This results in greater access to education for women. Darrell points out that educated women demand ownership of their bodies, then use that autonomy to have fewer kids. On the farm, children are an asset as workers or caregivers but in the city, they become a liability or “another mouth to feed.”

• Migration // Another huge factor is the migration of skilled migrants traveling from developing countries with high fertility rates to developed countries with lower fertility rates. Skilled migrants are drawn to the social, economic and cultural appeal of more developed countries. 

Using these three core insights, Darrell customizes his presentation to focus the impact on your audience. Here’s three of his sample industry customizations:

Empty Planet for HR Organizations  
Trends around automation, shifting skillsets, low immigration and urbanization, have all contributed to a scarcity in the ability to access talent. Where will your future workforce come from? What skill sets will they need to advance your organization in the midst of change? Where will you find a diverse range of skilled candidates for the future? Key insights for your audience:

• What the demographics of your future workforce will be and where to find them. 
• The wants and desires of your future workforce. 
• The strategic adjustments needed to meet the realities of a pending Empty Planet.

Empty Planet for Insurance Organizations 
Throw out your actuarial tables. Darrell shows insurance professionals the realities around our aging population – one which is living healthier and longer. How can organizations better address the special needs of elder women and men? What does a population who has fewer kids and more single person households mean for policies as they relate to dependents? This presentation can be focused on cross-border or customized to address a specific population. Key insights for your audience:

• Darrell explores what the numbers say about the value of putting a strategic focus on older customers. 
• How organizations can shift their policies to match the demographic realities of an Empty Planet. 
• Where the big growth opportunities are, from underinsured immigrants to extended care and more.

Empty Planet for Manufacturing & Product Development Organizations  
The manufacturing & product development sector is being challenged to find new strategic approaches for future success. But often overlooked for the technological aspect, is the people aspect. What does the shift to industry 4.0 and a focus on workers who build hardware, software, and firmware mean for hiring future employees? With fewer younger people to sell to, what do you build for older people? What does urbanization mean for physical space & accumulation of products? Key insights for your audience:

• What the research says about product demand and how you can align your future development strategy to meet these needs.
• The data-backed insights on the demographics of your future workforce and where to find them.

Bringing Darrell in to share his custom insights for your organization will help ensure your team is change-ready for the next big population shift. Your leadership team will be equipped with the vision to guide proactive strategies that ensure you can take advantage of what our society will look like in the future.



Curious? You can read a sample of Darrell Bricker’s latest book below: