Knowledge for policy

Growing consumerism


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By 2030, the global middle class is expected to reach 5.3 billion people. This means an additional more than 2 billion people with increased purchasing power than today. Most of this growth will be in Asia. By 2030, China and India together will represent 66% of the global middle-class population and 59% of middle-class consumption.
While the expanding middle-class could be a driver for economic development, changes in consumer behaviour and consumption patterns are expected to increase demand for food, water and energy by approximately 35%, 40% and 50% respectively by 2030.

Developments and Forecasts


The global middle class is expected to grow and reach 5.3 billion by 2030. Some 88% of the additional middle class population will be Asians. China and India will represent over 43.3% of the global middle class by 2030.

By 2030, over 70% of China’s population could be middle class, consuming nearly $10 trillion in goods and services and India could be the world’s largest middle class consumer market, surpassing both China and the USA. 

Middle class spending is expected to grow from about $37 trillion in 2017 to $64 trillion by 2030, accounting for a third of GDP growth. Most of it will be driven by the growing consuming classes in emerging economies.
| Related megatrends:​ DemographyGeopower

The number of people living in extreme poverty (US$1.9/day) has been reduced from 1.85 billion (35% of world population) in 1990 to 736 million (10% of world population) in 2015. | Related megatrends:​ GeopowerInequalities

Unless consumers' behaviour and consumption patterns change, by 2030, demand for food, water and energy will increase by approximately 35%, 40% and 50% respectively, compared to 2012.

Estimates for increasing energy demand by 2040 vary between 35% (BP) to 29% (IEA and Shell) and 0% (IEA “sustainable development scenario”) compared to 2016.
| Related megatrends:​ Natural resourcesClimate and environmen

In Europe

The European middle class has been eroding in the past decade, due to the economic turmoil as well changing work conditions and further increases of unemployment, especially among young people. | Related Megatrends: WorkGeopowerInequalities

Potential Implications

The growing purchasing power of the middle classes in the newly industrialised countries creates opportunities for the consumer goods industry, health services, infrastructure and education.

Unless consumption patterns of the emerging middle class in developing countries change, bottle necks in food and energy are very likely, along with increasing environmental degradation.

Asia's influence on the global consumer culture is growing. Prosperity among many young Chinese people will have a long-term effect on market trends not only in Asia but also in the USA and Europe.
​| Related Megatrends: GeopowerInequalitiesNatural resources


Indicators to measure change and potential forecasts.

The size of the global middle class, 2000, 2015, and 2030 (billion people)
Source: Brookings, The Unprecedented Expansion of the Middle Class, 2017 update

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Relevant EC Work

Policy papers and projects relevant to Growing Consumerism

Models relevant to Growing Consumerism used by the EC

TIM (Tools for Innovation Monitoring) is a tool developed by the EC Joint Research Centre to monitor and better understand the different facets of innovation and technological development.
Use TIM to explore R&I related to growing consumerism


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The EMM News Brief, Europe Media Monitoring, is a fully automatic system that analyses both traditional and social media. It gathers and aggregates about 300,000 news articles per day from news portals world-wide in up to 70 languages. 
Use EMM News Brief to explore worldwide news related to growing consumerism


©EU, 2018

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Disclaimer: the content presented in this Megatrends Hub does not represent the views of the JRC or those of the EC, nor an endorsement by them.

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