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Labor 2030: The collision of demographics, automation and inequality

The aim of this report is to detail how the impact of ageing populations, the adoption of new automation technologies and rising inequality will likely combine to give rise to new business risks and opportunities. This work is based on secondary market research, analysis of financial information available or provided to Bain and Company and a range of interviews with industry participants. Chapter one explores the impact of ageing populations and the end of plentiful labor. The baby boomer generation powered a long but temporary surge in labor force growth. Now this group is moving into retirement, and labor force growth is slowing. Chapter two examines how automation may solve one problem by increasing productivity and powering growth but creates another by potentially eliminating millions of jobs and suppressing wages for many workers. Chapter three looks at how rising inequality could threaten growth. Chapter four traces how developments are likely to unfold in the turbulent 2020s. Chapter five considers the outlook if governments intervene more actively in the marketplace to address economic imbalances. Their options include tax, labor market and regulatory interventions. Chapter six focuses on the practical business implications of these trends for leadership teams.