The Reality of 7 Billion People

December 19, 2011 by Brian Wasson

 

Recently the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that the 7 billionth person was born. Because it’s a big number without much context, many probably saw that figure in the news and promptly moved their attention to other pressing issues. But new tools from SAP provide a way to dig into the data behind the announcement and find statistics that are both generally interesting and specifically useful to business planning and strategy.

Normally, data mining like this would only be undertaken by academics and other researchers. However, SAP worked with the UNFPA to develop two interactive population dashboards using SAP® Crystal Dashboard Design software to help create greater transparency and awareness around core UN population data and trends.

The dashboards are available at www.7billionactions.org and will be used by the UN, local governments, economists, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to make better-informed decisions on how to best allocate funding and resources for the biggest impact in a world of 7 billion people and growing.

“The milestone of 7 billion is a challenge, opportunity, and a call to action to ensure that everyone can enjoy equal rights and dignity,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director, UNFPA. “Private sector partners like SAP can play a critical role, together with civil society, academia, governments, and the United Nations system, to accelerate progress especially for women and girls in the developing world.”

And, while not its primary focus, the SAP technology allows business users and others to interact with population data, understand the challenges created by population growth, and explore opportunities related to changing population dynamics and growing or shrinking markets. As an example, consider the opportunities offered by the prediction that by 2025 India is expected to have a larger population than China.

Next page: An aging population

An aging population

The data analysis also shows a paradoxical development — a younger world that is also aging.

The data shows that about two-thirds of the world’s population is under 40 years of age. The world supports the biggest generation of young people in history; young people between 10 and 24 make up 43% of the world’s population; 60% in the least-developed countries. This youth population represents an enormous challenge, but also an opportunity if they are able to participate in economic opportunities and can help generate future prosperity.

At the same time, the world is seeing a growing number of older people — 700 million in 2009, a number that is expected to rise to 2.4 billion by mid-century. By 2050, the number of working-age people available to support each person aged 65 or older will decline by half worldwide, straining government social support and retirement financing.

The dashboards were developed as part of the UNFPA’s global campaign, 7 Billion Actions, which enlisted a diverse group of UN actors, corporations, organizations, and individuals to inspire actions on key issues related to population growth. In close collaboration with other taskforce members, SAP pledged to develop technology solutions to help drive social innovation and global change.

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