Where the Workers Are

Test your knowledge of important demographic forces shaping the global labor pool.


Although the current unemployment rate may make a talent shortage the last thing any company is worried about, in fact changing demographics around the world will have a major impact on the global workforce, and companies should think through the implications now because responding to these changes will take substantial planning. Test your knowledge of the macro population trends that will soon impact your company’s labor force.

1) In developed countries, maintaining a stable population requires 2.1 births per woman. In 2009, the rate across Europe was:

A. 2.3

B. 1.9

C. 1.6

D. 1.4

2) Japan’s birth rate has been particularly low among developed nations. In 2010 it reached:

A. 1.8

B. 1.6

C. 1.3

D. 1.0

3) Japan has, in fact, been experiencing negative population growth for more than four decades, creating a shortage of workers that the country is now trying to alleviate via:

A. A retire-by-permission policy

B. Reformed child-labor laws

C. Immigration recruitment

D. Robots

4) China’s birth rate was above 5.5 in 1970, but its one-child policy is expected to cause a decline in its labor force as of:

A. This year

B. 2015

C. 2030

D. 2040

5) The U.S. is expected to maintain a stable fertility rate in the years ahead, but its workforce is expected to:

A. Increase primarily as baby boomers are unable or unwilling to retire

B. Increase primarily due to immigration

C. Decline overall as baby boomers retire

D. Decline overall as more women opt out of the workforce

6) Even as birth rates decline, the population of workers older than 64 (the upper limit of the usual definition of “labor force”) is growing around the world, and companies are doing more to accommodate such workers. BMW made dozens of modifications to one of its factories in this regard, including the introduction of:

A. Nap rooms

B. Soothing music

C. Pet-friendly policies

D. Large-print newspapers

7) By 2050, the 65+ age group is expected to equal 53% of the 15-to-64-year-old labor force in Germany. In the U.S. it will equal:

A. 19%

B. 25%

C. 33%

D. 48%

8) Flexible work arrangements tailored by country can help companies compete for talent. In Denmark, for example, 75% of women work part-time. Meanwhile, the percentage of Dutch men who work part-time or a compressed workweek stands at:

A. 12%

B. 18%

C. 25%

D. 32%

Sources: “Headwinds, Tailwinds, and the Riddles of Demographics,” Deloitte Review, 2011; U.S. Census Bureau

Answers: 1–C; 2–C; 3–D; 4–B; 5–B; 6–A; 7–C; 8–D.


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