This session examined how the developing world will begin to exploit the demographic advantage associated with young and growing populations while the developed world continues to struggle with the economic challenges of an ageing population and workforce. The narrowing of the income gap between developed and developing countries will cause significant disruption, and potentially result in protectionist responses from the developed world nations (such as artificially complex standards and compliance requirements for developed world products and services). Discussion referenced the opportunity for increasing numbers of small and medium sized businesses in the developing world to dis-intermediate developed world firms who have until now occupied the higher margin areas of the commercial value chain. Rising levels of urbanisation (70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030) will yield cost saving opportunities for governments administering services to concentrated populations, as well as higher demand for services and infrastructure. In the long-term, an increasingly hyper-connected world will enable individuals to participate in the global economy from any location which will potentially reanimate communities as drivers of entrepreneurship and innovation. Finally, the iterative process of technology adoption confers a competitive advantage on the younger generation’s capacity to rapidly assimilate new concepts and working methods – although newer touch screen devices and dynamic interfaces are also more accessible and intuitive to older users and the disabled than any previous generation of information technology.

Specific questions for further discussion

(links take you to the relevant forum subtopic):


Q1: Will developing world busineses succeed in dis-intermediating developed world firms within the next 5-10 years - or just continue to compete by providing low cost labour?

Q2: What responsibility should the developed world take in incentivising the transition of emerging economies from from labour intensive to innovation/skill intensive development pathways?

Link to main discussion topic: