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Why the future of humanity lies in Asia 

While developed markets’ aging population problem becomes increasingly pronounced, Asian countries are witnessing a rapid rise of youth with some sub-regions’ median age staying firmly under 30. Global strategy advisor and economist Parag Khanna said Asians’ movements around the world and their increasingly deep intra-region relationships will have massive geopolitical and workforce impacts on global markets. 

 While developed markets’ aging population problem becomes increasingly pronounced, South Asian and ASEAN countries are witnessing a rapid rise of youth with the regions’ median age staying firmly under 30.  

There will eventually be “more Asian youth than any other category of human being” according to global strategy advisor and economist Parag Khanna speaking at the Fiduciary Investors Symposium, and their movements around the world will have massive political and workforce impacts on global markets.  

“When people ask this big, weighty question of what the future of humanity is, you’ll hear lots of philosophical answers. People will say things like religious wars or capitalism, which are lofty kinds of ideas,” he told the symposium in Singapore.  

“I think the factual answer to the question is literally two words: Asian youth.” 

While the world is used to the Chinese diaspora being the largest community numerically, Khanna said that will cease to be the case “imminently” as more Chinese retreat to Asia, not to mention the country’s median age (40) is older than the rest of region.  

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Instead, South Asians (with youth giants like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) will play a bigger part in the global markets from this point on, especially in regions like the US, Canada and Europe where they already occupy a greater share of the workforce than the Chinese. This is thanks to various outbound motivation drivers like pollution, economics and corruption. 

Apart from demographic advantages, Asia also has economic perks such as low currency volatility. The Gulf countries have long pegged their currencies to USD to underpin continued currency stability, and long-term low interest rates across Asia’s major economies have enabled steady credit availability and flows.  

Asia also accounts for most of the emerging market equity growth. Khanna said longer-term factors including capital account liberalisation and accelerated privatisation will unlock new investment inflows into fresh Asian listings. 

“[Emerging markets] is a term I hate, and I only use it in quotes,” Khanna said. “Because you throw a bunch of countries together as if there’s any kind of correlation between what’s happening in Brazil, Nigeria, or South Africa today versus the [Asian] region.” 

“Think regionally, think geographically, and that’s going to serve you a whole lot better.” 


Khanna said many people have considered the rise of China as the megatrend of the century. However, it was only a part of a broader “Asianisation” trend, marked by the resurrection of the Asian system and deepening relationships between states and subregions.  

“The further we look into the future and look back from that future, the more apparent it is that Asia has multiple drivers, multiple anchors and multiple pillars. The overall systemic quality that they are building or rebuilding – that is the great story of the 21st century,” he said.  

This also provides an alternative perspective to ongoing geopolitical tensions such as the Russo-Ukrainian War. Even since the seizure of Crimea in 2014, the increasing Western sanction has persuaded Russia to pivot towards being more of a North Asian country, rather than Eastern European, Khanna said. 

Russia has huge leverage as Asia’s “gas station and grocery store”, he said. 

“What you’ve noticed in the past two years is that India has embraced Russia, and countries have been trying to find exemptions to the oil cap. So how can you possibly presume that Russia is isolated and is destined to collapse?  

“Whether you want it to or not is your own personal point of view… but the world’s largest country has 14 neighbors, many of them Asian, and the Asians view it as a very vital provider of energy, commodities, food, access to the Arctic. 

“So Russia, again for better or worse, is not going anywhere.” 

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