While the study, the result of four years of analysis by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC), forecasts that the United States will remain a central player, NIC analysts foresee a newly multipolar world marked by a diffusion of power.
“Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power,” the “Global Trends” report states. “China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030. In a tectonic shift, the health of the global economy increasingly will be linked to how well the developing world does – more so than the traditional West.”
This evolution will be powered by a tremendously strengthened middle class across the globe, the NIC suggests, marked by greater education levels and access to health care. According to some models, extreme poverty could decline by as much as 50 percent within the next two decades.
Even the most conservative models used by the NIC project a doubling or even tripling in the size of the global middle class, led particularly by Asia and Africa. Much of the future global leadership, the report suggests, is likely to come from the upper echelons of this new demographic.
“We’re entering a period of uncharted territory – we’ve never seen a world … when the middle class will be the majority in most countries,” Mathew J. Burrows, the study’s lead author, stated Monday here in Washington. “This isn’t just Asia; it’s the entire developing world coming to the fore during this period, to the point where the traditional West is in many ways in the minority. That’s a huge change.”
Such changes will result particularly in a dramatic acceleration of “individual empowerment”. This is “the biggest megatrend”, Burrows says, “and a concept we didn’t even include in previous reports, which usually began with the role of the state.”
Interestingly, a European report, which also looked forward to 2030 and was released earlier this year, likewise focused on the rise of the global middle class and the relative empowerment of the individual.
Given that most countries do not have the resources to fund such long-term analyses, the Global Trends report, released every four years, is widely read around the world. Prior to its public release on Monday, the new study was unveiled for government officials and academics in 20 countries.
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