Close this search box.
Close this search box.

A Changed World By 2030: How Covid Accelerates 6 Key Trends

Covid will accelerate a slew of mega-trends already reshaping our world, predicts Wharton professor Mauro Guillen. Here’s what you should be watching.

Some crises are clear turning points in history, disruptions like the Black Death of the 1300s or the Great Depression of the 1930s, where everything before is swept aside and a new order emerges.

But coronavirus pandemic? That is not one of those times, argues Wharton professor Mauro Guillen, author of the forthcoming 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything (August 2020, St. Martin’s Press). Still, the virus will intensify and accelerate—rather than create—a series of interrelated trends, all of which will have an increasing influence on every aspect of life across the world over the coming decade.

His advice for CEOs: “If you weren’t doing enough before the crisis to catch up with some of these, you’re going to have to run faster.”

Emerging Economies Truly Emerge

According to the IMF, emerging economies this year are projected to grow by about 2 percent. That’s paltry, yet the U.S. should have -5 percent GDP, Europe, -7 percent. “Asia is worse off than it was before the pandemic, but they’re going to keep growing, whereas we’ll just be shrinking in economic size,” Guillen says. “So, that’s only going to accelerate their rebalancing of geopolitics in the world based on the size of economies.”

Smaller Families Reshape Markets—and Nations

People usually postpone major decisions when faced with uncertainty. Having a baby is a huge financial commitment, and a recession will force many to reconsider whether the timing is right. In addition, the virus will reduce immigration, especially to the U.S. and Europe, further slowing birth rates in these regions, impacting everything from consumer spending to stressing social safety nets, like Social Security and Medicare. “On both counts, we’re going to see an intensification of that trend,” says Guillen.

Online Wins the Customer

Social distancing and “sheltering in place” are already intensifying shifts toward online shopping, virtual communication and digital entertainment. That will increase, and it will not be reversed. Banks, for example, are already seeing an unprecedented acceleration away from physical branches, with knock-on impacts for finance, real estate and the labor market. “This is a big experiment, and people have been forced to use the online channel given this crisis. And the learning, the experience, that is going to stay with them forever.”

Large-Scale Automation Accelerates

Covid-19 is providing the manufacturing, service and transportation sectors more incentives to automate than ever. The risk of disrupted operations and supply chains due to illness will tip the scales on the costs of conversion. “Inevitably, some people will lose their jobs, and you know who they are,” says Guillen. “They tend to be people in their 50s with skills that are not really employable. They can’t find jobs. That contributes to economic inequality.”

Generational Divides Expand

With Europe and East Asia composed of an older age cohort and Africa and South Asia experiencing a baby boom, the share of the world’s population moving to the latter will only accelerate if the Covid mortality rate among the old continues at the pace we are witnessing, with financial and other impacts.

Income Inequality and Health

The working poor and the homeless are unlikely to have access to good healthcare, and their immune systems may already be compromised due to poor diets or insalubrious living conditions. While the virus won’t discriminate by income or healthcare coverage, people at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid are far more exposed to the consequences of infection. This will have longterm, perhaps multigenerational, consequences.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.