We have come to think of the twenty-first century as the ‘Asian century’. But the coming decades will not only be ‘geographically different, but also generationally different’, according to International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde. Despite lower birth rates in the world's richest nations and interventions like China's one-child policy, the world is experiencing a ‘youth bulge’ that will make Generation Y the most populous of all generations. This ‘bubble’ intersects with the world's digital transformation, indicating that the future will be shaped by different values and principles than the ones we have been used to in the Baby Boomer–led West. It follows that we need to account globally for this most global of generations.
Few members of Gen Y — or the ‘post-eighties generation’, as they are known in China, and ‘Millennials’ in many other places — have enjoyed the privilege that we have in Australia of coming of age in a young and rich country. Yet most of them are optimistic and connected. Young people in developing economies do not feel pushed down or sidelined because of their age. The aptly named Brazilian Dream Project, which studied 18-to-24 year olds, found that those surveyed described themselves most frequently as ‘dreamers, consumers, responsible and hard-working’.
Young people are part of a thriving ...