Business operates today in a world of accelerating change. In the United States, it took 76 years half the population to own a telephone. The smartphone achieved the same penetration in less than a decade. It took France 100 years to double the share of its over-60 population within the labour force, from 7 to 14 percent.

China, India, and Brazil will make the same leap in less than 30 years. Due to the whirlwind pace of global forces, a phenomenal amount of value can be created or destroyed more quickly today than at any other point in history.

In 2013, to shed light on changes in the global economy, PwC initiated a research project on megatrends and their implications for business and government leaders. A megatrend is a large-scale pattern or movement that has a major, long-lasting impact on business and society. Our goals were to tap into people’s natural curiosity about external factors, to broaden and deepen the resulting conversation; and to translate the general understanding of megatrends into a more practical framework that companies could use to seek opportunities and reduce risks.

The megatrends framework can help any private or public-sector leader think more clearly about complex external trends, and help develop an ordered, prudent, and proactive strategy for facing them. Its basic building blocks are five historical patterns active in the world today that have left their mark on all aspects of the world’s economic and social fabric.

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