• Millennials are now the largest adult cohort worldwide.
  • There are 1.8 billion around the world, equal to 23% of the global population.
  • Asia is home to a quarter of the global population of millennials.
  • Of all generations, they are the most educated and are increasingly influential.
  • In China, millennials hold two thirds of the country's passports.
  • In the U.S., millennial per capita spending is set to increase over 10% by 2025.
a chart showing the prevalence of Millennials worldwide
Millennials are the most educated generation and are increasingly influential.
Image: Visual Capitalist

A regional breakdown of millennials around the world

Eventually, Baby Boomers will cease to be the most influential generation.

Of course, it’s bound to happen. But this means that the social, political, and economic terrain will be reshaped for the next several decades.

Millennials, defined as those born between 1980 and 1994 (age 27-41 in 2021), are now the largest adult cohort worldwide. They are also the most educated. The big question is, how will this generation influence society?

As millennials get older and gain more earning power, this graphic from MSCI shows the regional breakdown of millennials around the world, and the second-order effects of their rising influence.

Millennials around the world

Today, there are 1.8 billion millennials around the world, equal to 23% of the global population. Here’s how millennials break down by region:

a chart showing the breakdown of millennials by region
Asia is home to 24% of the world's millennials.
Image: Visual Capitalist

Asia is unmatched when it comes to millennials. Across the region, there are 1.1 billion millennials, or 24% of the region’s population. In China for example, those under 40 own two-thirds of the country’s passports. Millennials and Gen Z are projected to make up 75% of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) consumers by 2030.

The region of Africa has the second-highest millennial cohort, at 278 million. Millennials control 65% of Africa’s purchasing power through household purchases, valued at $845 billion.

In North America, millennials are projected to see a 10% increase in spending by 2025. But while previous generations began having children at this age, fewer millennials are becoming parents. One in three U.S. millennials live with their spouse and a child, compared to 40% for Gen X.

Educational levels and job security are two factors that can help explain this trend. In one survey, over 50% of U.S. millennials were concerned about employment prospects in the future.

Most educated generation, ever

The millennial generation is the most educated in history. What’s more, educational levels of women outpace men across nearly all regions for the first time.

a chart showing education levels among the millennial generation
The millennial generation is the most educated in history.
Image: Visual Capitalist

This pattern suggests that women could play a more concrete role in everything from politics, grassroots movements, business, and public discourse as evidenced by historical trends.

However, progress is still slow: just 12 of 532 voting members of congress are women millennials.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in ten countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Panama in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.

In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

Then and now

Demographic forces have a powerful effect on society.

One prime example is the shifting dialogue in financial markets. Investors are placing a greater focus on sustainable practices, with alternative energy innovations and solutions gaining serious traction. At the same time, 40% of new investors in 2020 were aged 30-44.

As social dialogue changes, so do investing choices. This presents a critical opportunity for businesses and asset managers, who may consider adapting as demographics change.