Seventeen years from now, half the global stock of capital, totaling $158 trillion (in 2010 dollars), will reside in the developing world, compared to less than one-third today, with countries in East Asia and Latin America accounting for the largest shares of this stock, says the latest edition of the World Bank’s Global Development Horizons (GDH) report, which explores patterns of investment, saving and capital flows as they are likely to evolve over the next two decades.
Developing countries’ share in global investment is projected to triple by 2030 to three-fifths, from one-fifth in 2000, says the report, titled ‘Capital for the Future: Saving and Investment in an Interdependent World’. With world population set to rise from 7 billion in 2010 to 8.5 billion 2030 and rapid aging in the advanced countries, demographic changes will profoundly influence these structural shifts.
“GDH is one of the finest efforts at peering into the distant future. It does this by marshaling an amazing amount of statistical information,” said Kaushik Basu, the World Bank’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “We know from the experience of countries as diverse as South Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa the pivotal role investment plays in driving long-term growth. In less than a generation, global investment will be dominated by the developing countries. And among the developing countries, China and India are expected to be the largest investors, with the two countries together accounting for 38 percent of the global gross investment in 2030. All this will change the landscape of the global economy, and GDH analyzes how.”
Productivity catch-up, increasing integration into global markets, sound macroeconomic policies, and improved education and health are helping speed growth and create massive investment opportunities, which, in turn, are spurring a shift in global economic weight to developing countries. A further boost is being provided by the youth bulge. With developing countries on course to add more than 1.4 billion people to their combined population between now and 2030, the full benefit of the demographic dividend has yet to be reaped, particularly in the relatively younger regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The good news is that, unlike in the past, developing countries will likely have the resources needed to finance these massive future investments for infrastructure and services, including in education and health care. Strong saving rates in developing countries are expected to peak at 34 percent of national income in 2014 and will average 32 percent annually until 2030. In aggregate terms, the developing world will account for 62-64 percent of global saving of $25-27 trillion by 2030, up from 45 percent in 2010.
“Despite strong saving levels to finance their massive investment needs in the future, developing countries will need to significantly improve their currently limited participation in international financial markets if they are to reap the benefits of the tectonic shifts taking place,” said Hans Timmer, Director of the Bank’s Development Prospects Group.
GDH paints two scenarios, based on the speed of convergence between the developed and developing worlds in per capita income levels, and the pace of structural transformations (such as financial development and improvements in institutional quality) in the two groups. Scenario one entails a gradual convergence between the developed and developing world while a much more rapid scenario is envisioned in the second.
The gradual and rapid scenarios predict average world economic growth of 2.6 percent and 3 percent per year, respectively, during the next two decades; the developing world’s growth will average an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the gradual convergence scenario and 5.5 percent in the rapid one.
In both scenarios, developing countries’ employment in services will account for more than 60 percent of their total employment by 2030 and they will account for more than 50 percent of global trade. This shift will occur alongside demographic changes that will increase demand for infrastructural services. Indeed, the report estimates the developing world’s infrastructure financing needs at $14.6 trillion between now and 2030.
The report also points to aging populations in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which will see the largest reductions in saving rates. Demographic change will test the sustainability of public finances and complex policy challenges will arise from efforts to reduce the burden of health care and pensions without imposing severe hardships on the old. In contrast, Sub-Saharan Africa, with its relatively young and rapidly growing population as well as robust economic growth, will be the only region not experiencing a decline in its saving rate.
In absolute terms, however, saving will continue to be dominated by Asia and the Middle East. In the gradual convergence scenario, in 2030, China will save far more than any other developing country — $9 trillion in 2010 dollars — with India a distant second with $1.7 trillion, surpassing the levels of Japan and the United States in the 2020s.
As a result, under the gradual convergence scenario, China will account for 30 percent of global investment in 2030, with Brazil, India and Russia together accounting for another 13 percent. In terms of volumes, investment in the developing world will reach $15 trillion (in 2010 dollars), versus $10 trillion in high-income economies. China and India will account for almost half of all global manufacturing investment.
“GDH clearly highlights the increasing role developing countries will play in the global economy. This is undoubtedly a significant achievement. However, even if wealth will be more evenly distributed across countries, this does not mean that, within countries, everyone will equally benefit,” said Maurizio Bussolo, Lead Economist and lead author of the report.
The report finds that the least educated groups in a country have low or no saving, suggesting an inability to improve their earning capacity and, for the poorest, to escape a poverty trap.
“Policy makers in developing countries have a central role to play in boosting private saving through policies that raise human capital, especially for the poor,” concluded Bussolo.
East Asia and the Pacific will see its saving rate fall and its investment rate will drop by even more, though they will still be high by international standards. Despite these lower rates, the region’s shares of global investment and saving will rise through 2030 due to robust economic growth. The region is experiencing a big demographic dividend, with fewer than 4 non-working age people for every 10 working age people, the lowest dependency ratio in the world. This dividend will end after reaching its peak in 2015. Labor force growth will slow, and by 2040 the region may have one of the highest dependency ratios of all developing regions (with more than 5.5 non-working age people for every 10 working age people). China, a big regional driver, is expected to continue to run substantial current account surpluses, due to large declines in its investment rate as it transitions to a lower level of public involvement in investment.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the furthest along in its demographic transition, and will be the only developing region to reach zero population growth by 2030. Aging is expected to moderate economic growth in the region, and also has the potential to bring down the saving rate more than any developing region, apart from East Asia. The region’s saving rate may decline more than its investment rate, in which case countries in the region will have to finance investment by attracting more capital flows. The region will also face significant fiscal pressure from aging. Turkey, for example, would see its public pension spending increase by more than 50 percent by 2030 under the current pension scheme. Several other countries in the region will also face large increases in pension and health care expenditures.
Latin America and the Caribbean, a historically low-saving region, may become the lowest-saving region by 2030. Although demographics will play a positive role, as dependency ratios are projected to fall through 2025, financial market development (which reduces precautionary saving) and a moderation in economic growth will play a counterbalancing role. Similarly, the rising and then falling impact of demography on labor force growth means that the investment rate is expected to rise in the short run, and then gradually fall. However, the relationship between inequality and saving in the region suggests an alternative scenario. As in other regions, poorer households tend to save much less; thus, improvements in earning capacity, rising incomes, and reduced inequality have the potential not only to boost national saving but, more importantly, to break poverty traps perpetuated by low saving by poor households.
The Middle East and North Africa has significant scope for financial market development, which has the potential to sustain investment but also, along with aging, to reduce saving. Thus, current account surpluses may also decline moderately up to 2030, depending on the pace of financial market development. The region is in a relatively early phase of its demographic transition: characterized by a still fast growing population and labor force, but also a rising share of elderly. Changes in household structure may also impact saving patterns, with a transition from intergenerational households and family-based old age support to smaller households and greater reliance on asset income in old age. The region has the lowest use of formal financial institutions for saving by low-income households, and scope for financial markets to play a significantly greater role in household saving.
South Asia will remain one of the highest saving and highest investing regions until 2030. However, with the scope for rapid economic growth and financial development, results for saving, investment, and capital flows will vary significantly: in a scenario of more rapid economic growth and financial market development, high investment rates will be sustained while saving falls significantly, implying large current account deficits. South Asia is a young region, and by about 2035 is likely to have the highest ratio of working- to nonworking-age people of any region in the world. The general shift in investment away from agriculture towards manufacturing and service sectors is likely to be especially pronounced in South Asia, with the region’s share of total investment in manufacturing expected to nearly double, and investment in the service sector to increase by more than 8 percentage points, to over two-thirds of total investment.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s investment rate will be steady due to robust labor force growth. It will be the only region to not see a decrease in its saving rate in a scenario of moderate financial market development, since aging will not be a significant factor. In a scenario of faster growth, poorer African countries will experience deeper financial market development, and foreign investors will become increasingly willing to finance investment in the region. Sub-Saharan Africa is currently the youngest of all regions, with the highest dependency ratio. This ratio will steadily decrease throughout the time horizon of this report and beyond, bringing a long lasting demographic dividend. The region will have the greatest infrastructure investment needs over the next two decades (relative to GDP). At the same time, there will likely be a shift in infrastructure investment financing toward greater participation by the private sector, and substantial increases in private capital inflows, particularly from other developing regions.