The size of population and its structure represent critical medium to long term influences on travel and consumer behaviour in general. Consumer demand and the supply of labour flow from the demographic structure of a country:
- Age groups influence the types of products and services purchased, attitudes and travel aspirations.
- The growth of working age population is an important influence on labour supply and long term economic growth prospects.
A concern for governments in developed countries is the rate of growth in older age groups, relative to the total, and the limited growth in the taxation from the working population relative to the growth in the ‘dependent’ population (school age and retired).
For some countries, many in Europe and countries such as Japan, the population will decline as it ages which will exacerbate the problems of public service provision.
The charts below show the contrasting demographic structures in different countries. They are based on the United Nations’ World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision. The first chart shows the population and age structure of Japan, the second the UN’s region ‘Western Asia’ which includes countries such as Iraq, Israel, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Japan’s population is projected to fall over the period to 2050 and the median age will grow from 43 in 2005 to 55 years in 2050. During this period the median age for Western Asia increases from 24 to 36 years.
These developments are significant from a travel viewpoint because of a higher propensity to travel (particularly for business) amongst the working population. In addition the group with the fastest growth in developed countries is women in the 25 to 44 years age group.
Population and Ages Japan and Western Asia 1950 to 2050