Over 50% of the World’s Population is Under 30 – Social Media on the Rise

By Erik Qualman[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net/%5D

Roughly 52% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old.*  It is estimated that the U.S. population of 310 million equates to 4.5% of the world population.  Meanwhile, China’s population of 1.33 billion represents almost 20% of the world population.  Please note that Google and Facebook don’t dominate China like they do other parts of the world, rather Baidu, QQ and Renren lead the way.

52% of world's population is 0-29

Over 50% of the world's population is under 30 (U.S. Census Bureau | Click to Enlarge)

Looking at the population in five year windows reveals that 0-4 years-old is the largest segment.  This intuitively makes sense from a death rate perspective in developing countries.  As we look at the ages of anyone over 10 and under 60 the largest group is those 20-24 years of age.  The smallest group are those 55-59.

U.S. Data

If we are to drill down into the U.S. data it differs from the world population in the fact that the 20-24 year-olds are the third largest segment after the segments of  1) 45-49 and 2) 50-54.  96% of Generation Y indicate they have used social media tools (Source: Trendspotting).  Not sure how the other 4% somehow have avoided social media, but we will leave that for another day. The life expectancy of someone born in the U.S. today is 78.

According to this data it’s predicted that Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers in July, 2010 (based on Census Bureau Projections).  There is much debate on which years define each generation, but even running the numbers numerous ways shows that Generation Y will outnumber Boomers.  If you define Generation Y or Millennials as being born between 1980-2000 (10-30 year olds in 2010) the population equals 82,576,000.  The way the Census bureau breaks out data in 5 year increments this window keeps the data “whole.”  For Baby Boomers if you run the numbers to how the census bureau defines a Boomer  as the years 1946-64 (ironically people aged 46-64 in 2010) the population equals 79,590,000.  If you define boomers like William Strauss and Neil Howe as being born from 1943-1960 (50-67 years of age in 2010) the population equals 69,522,000 and that is giving the boomers two extra years (50-69 years of age in 2010).

How Do I Live to 100? – Be Social

For kicks here are some bold predictions*:

  1. Facebook’s main competition may come from China
  2. Physical paper newspapers will be done by 2014
  3. Television as we know it today will be done by 2016 (served over IP)

Oh, and one last thing.  While Males start out as the larger population (107 index) females live longer and flip this (Male index goes from 107 to 23) by the time they are 100.  One of the top characteristics doctors have determined of centenarians (people that live to be 100) is that they have active social lives.  Isn’t it appropriate that females will be carrying the social torch for years to come?

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* Based on 2010 data of 3,548,760,268 (age 0-29) and total population of 6,830,586,985 = roughly 52%.  If you run the numbers for 2009 it comes out to roughly 52% as well.  Let me know if you catch any errors please.

**Feel free to argue with me now or tell me “I told you so” starting in 2014.  Larry Weber feels it’s 2015 for Newspaper and 2018 for TV.

17 responses to “Over 50% of the World’s Population is Under 30 – Social Media on the Rise

  1. Maybe, maybe. Doesn’t it seem as if the advocates are telling us the revolution is here? What about the objective, disinterested parties (i.e, those without books to sell).

  2. Thanks for a well-written and informative article. It’s really odd to think of a world without as much printed material, but I do believe that time is near.

  3. Those are some eye-opening stats for even us Gen-Xr’s in the workforce. Going to change dramatically the way we all conduct “business” in the office. Social media policies are beginning to become the norm in most sizable companies – but mostly around do’s and don’ts and limitations. I suspect not too far down the road, we’ll see that changing to incorporate use of social media in job roles and descriptions.

  4. These are some great stats. However, I agree that 4 years is a little soon for print to go out of style. Although many are choosing digital as the popular way to go, I believe both will continue to co-exist because each brings to the table something the other does not. Not everyone has taken on the digital world yet and therefore rely on print materials. I believe it will be a long time before this changes for good.

    • Netwave you made a good point that not everyone has taken on the digital world yet. It reminded me of a New York Times television advertisement and partnership with the classic TV show Jeopardy. The tie in makes sense to me as I can envision they both have similar “classic” audiences.

      Erik’s right that the “end is near” for print and I think it’s largely tied to the lifespan of it’s older demographic.

      60-80 years old? Assuming a life span of 100 that’s less than 1 life time away when print says goodbye to it largest supporters. It might be appropriate for print media to enter into deals with Senior & Assisted Living centers to provide print news much as USA Today has done with hotel chains.

    • I agree with the argument that print is still used by many, but eventually economies of scale will kick in. If the digital versions of traditional newspapers become more profitable than the print editions, then the shift will occur, even if there many who still prefer print. One way or another people who are disconnected from digital media are going to be forcibly integrated. That’s unfortunate for people who enjoy print, but making money is what will drive the change. 2014 doesn’t sound so unreasonable if you consider the profitability of print rather than how many people still use it.

      • Economies of scale will kick in assuming they’re able to monetize online as well as they did with print. 3rd party analytics will be holding online media to a ROI standard they didn’t have to meet when sales involved circulation. Easier to put the content online, but it’s a lot more competition and accountability. When I see news articles online that still have *in-active* URLs, it makes me skeptical that they can effectively reinvent themselves.

  5. A good thing to remember Facebook is not the only show in town. Thanks for the post some fascinating fact & figures on the future of social media.

  6. Four years seems a bit soon for physical newspapers. It’ll take a lot for print media execs to ‘fold’ their hand, especially after all the money they’ve put into the pot. Slow to re-invent themselves, it’d probably be in their best interest to scrap their whole model and shoot for the moon with a paid or AdSense driven local RSS reader mashup.

    It will be interesting to see how TV develops. With cable companies like Comcast delivering both Cable & TV in bundles- it’s almost more expensive not to get both. Let’s say fiber gets really cheap in the future, a company laying down “nothin’ but Net” would help liberate TV from it’s normal delivery method. Funny then, that Google has started scouting towns for it’s own fiber test.

    • Casey:

      Love your idea for newspapers to scrape their existing model “and shoot for the moon with a paid or AdSense driven local RSS reader mashup.”

      Thanks for the thought!


  7. Powerful stats here. One thing social media guarantees now is a web of user generated content. It’ll be hard for most people going forward to imagine otherwise.

  8. Nice, succinct argument supporting the rise of online social media and apparent future dominance.

    Unfortunately, the confidence in which you support your social media presentation isn’t evident in your prognostication of print media’s demise. I know it’s “just for kicks,” but you presented it knowing it would generate feedback.

    Despite the speed at which the Internet is evolving and establishing a foothold in the lives of most Americans, there is no evidence of an inversely proportional rate of decline in any statistical data that can be used to foretell the future of print media. Thus, a prophetic announcement of the death of print media by 2014 is a bit cavalier.

    I think perhaps print media decision-makers will have come to their senses prior to 2014 and figured out how and why print and online operations work best through collaborative efforts (if they learn to think outside of their boxy boardrooms).

    It seems to me that the way forward is not necessarily either/or, but rather both/and.

    I welcome your feedback.

    • Mike:

      Thanks for the comment. I will surprisingly give you an argument (I’m sure there are several more) in favor of print. Most studies show you can read 10-30% faster on paper than digitally. My guess is that Apple, Amazon, etc. will figure this out and possibly reverse this trend so that digital is faster, but they’ve haven’t as of yet (at least to my knowledge).

      Keep in mind that personally, I believe it would be sad if print went away entirely and to your point printed newspapers/magazines may coexist with tablets, eReaders, etc. However, I do believe that this could go down a similar path as the music industry, hence my bold (and yes, I will agree a bit cavalier) prediction.

      Thanks again for contributing!

  9. I love population statistics and work with them regularly. As a mom of two young children ages 5 & 3, I can only imagine the social world they will grow up in.

    Going back to your Socialnomics book, these stats further confirm we’re living on a “World of Mouth” planet. Personally, I’m already seeing my niche business starting to build an international clientele from social media marketing and expect others are experiencing the same.

    • Bobbi-Jo:

      Thanks for the kind words and for pulling a quote from the book (+10 points for you!).

      I’m thrilled to hear it is helping your business grow. I’m sure the little ones are keeping you busy too!

      Best, Erik

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