Our Children’s Prospects

Athena, our robot, thinks the future is bleak for many uneducated and poverty-stricken children and this could be made a whole lot worse if educationalists and parents don’t prepare kids for very different futures. Read on to consider the issues and the opportunities and how you and your organization can help reduce this inequality.

Athena’s forecast
Start year: 2015
Likely Tipping point: 2045
Likely End year: 2115
Likely Impact $: Billions
Likelihood: 80%
Regions affected: The World
Most affected sectors: healthcare, education, energy, retail, food & agriculture, construction, water

What is changing?

  • In the next 14 years, sub-Saharan Africa will account for almost 90 percent of extreme poverty among the world’s children.
  • Generations of children and young adults who grew up in poverty and ill health in developing countries will be entering old age in coming decades.
  • Another 700,000 children in 11 other countries will no longer receive the crucial meals when theirschools start later in the year.
  • More than 370,000 children are at risk of starvation in Yemen.


  • The demographic structure of most countries will change towards lower proportions of children andyoung people.
  • Within five years, more than half of America’s children and teenagers will have at least one non-white parent.
  • Gen Y is the most racially diverse generation ever in the US-and the children of Millennials will likely be even more racially diverse.
  • The ratio of working-age Chinese to children and seniors (the so-called “dependency ratio”) is roughly at its peak today and will begin to decline.
  • In 2050, the global population of older adults 65 and older is projected to be 2.5 times that of thepopulation of children ages 0-4.
  • Changes to China’s one-child policy will likely have only a very modest impact on economic growth.
  • Africa will need to decrease its birthrate further to take full advantage of the demographic dividend by reducing the number of children adults have to provide for.
  • 750 million women will have been married as children by 2030.


  • Having a creative brain and a thirst for self-starting are skills most children will need when they enter the workplace of 2020 and beyond.
  • Only 70% of children in low income countries will complete primary school in 2030.
  • More than 1.5 billion adults will have no education beyond primary school in 2030.
  • 65% of children entering primary schools today will ultimately work in new job types and functions that currently don’t exist.
  • In Niger, eliminating child marriage could lead to estimated benefits of more than $25 billion over the next 15 years by reducing population growth and increasing educational outcomes for girls.
  • Educating mothers to lower secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 could prevent 3.5 million child deaths between 2050-60.
  • Teenagers (and even younger children) who have ambitions to go to college are increasingly seeking to boost their chances by enrolling in summer school and educational programs that will look good on their applications.


  • There is concern that the increasing exposure of children to e-cigarette adverts could be contributing to high rates of experimentation.
  • New cases of bronchitis in children aged 6 to 12 are forecast to leap from 12 million today to 36 million a year by 2060.
  • Parents will increasingly want sports equipment that helps protect their children from injury.


  • Service-sector skills particularly in care industries (health, aged, child) will continue to be significant job growth areas.


  • Annual smart-toy sales worldwide are expected to grow from about $2.8bn in 2015 to $11.3bn by 2020.
  • The so-called Bank of Mum and Dad will lend £5bn to the next generation of UK homeowners.


  • The global trend toward having fewer children assures that there will be less potential care and support for older people from their families in the future.
  • Younger generations will face burdens on their time and resources as smaller generational cohorts care for the first large senior generations.
  • The target set by world leaders for all children to have at least a primary education by 2030 is likely to be missed on current trends and on the current rate of progress it will take until 2042.
  • The new target for universal lower secondary education will come about in 2059 and universal upper secondary in 2084.
  • Africa’s vast population of young people could position it to be the world’s labor force in the mid-21st century-if work is available for them.
  • Italian parents who force a vegan or vegetarian diet on to their children under 16 could face up to four years in jail
  • Because members of the global middle class have fewer children-due to urban relocation, higher income, and better education-analysis of research shows that 600 million fewer people could inhabit the Earth by 2050.
  • Cognitive computing could be a transformative technology for the child welfare field.
  • Fifteen-year-olds can expect to have more than 17 jobs in five different industries over their working lives.

Sentiment Analysis


Will our kids have jobs when they grow up?

What will the generation of kids who are growing up with such learning and play companions expect from their work and educational settings?
If a robot carried a sign saying it was a ‘child-care robot,’ would people leave their babies with it?

About this Alert: robot generated from verbatim forecasts and questions auto-extracted from the Shaping Tomorrow database of articles, reports and PowerPoints and supplemented with quantitative and graphical analysis by the robot. Time to compile and produce – 40 minutes.

Learn more

Find more sources and forecasts on Shaping Tomorrow, some of which were used in this Trend Alert, or ask us for our ready-made and free,in-depth PowerPoint report or more detailed GIST briefing on this or any other topic of interest to you.

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