Developing countries to dominate global saving and investment, but the poor will not necessarily share the benefits, says report
May 16, 2013
In less than a generation, global saving and investment will be dominated by the developing world, says the just-released Global Development Horizons (GDH) report.
Policy makers in developing countries have a central role to play in boosting private saving through policies that raise human capital, especially for the poor.
In absolute terms, however, saving will continue to be dominated by Asia and the Middle East. In the gradual convergence scenario, in 2030, China will save far more than any other developing country -- $9 trillion in 2010 dollars -- with India a distant second with $1.7 trillion, surpassing the levels of Japan and the United States in the 2020s.
East Asia and the Pacific will see its saving rate fall and its investment rate will drop by even more, though they will still be high by international standards. Despite these lower rates, the region’s shares of global investment and saving will rise through 2030 due to robust economic growth. The region is experiencing a big demographic dividend, with fewer than 4 non-working age people for every 10 working age people, the lowest dependency ratio in the world. This dividend will end after reaching its peak in 2015. Labor force growth will slow, and by 2040 the region may have one of the highest dependency ratios of all developing regions (with more than 5.5 non-working age people for every 10 working age people). China, a big regional driver, is expected to continue to run substantial current account surpluses, due to large declines in its investment rate as it transitions to a lower level of public involvement in investment.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the furthest along in its demographic transition, and will be the only developing region to reach zero population growth by 2030. Aging is expected to moderate economic growth in the region, and also has the potential to bring down the saving rate more than any developing region, apart from East Asia. The region’s saving rate may decline more than its investment rate, in which case countries in the region will have to finance investment by attracting more capital flows. The region will also face significant fiscal pressure from aging. Turkey, for example, would see its public pension spending increase by more than 50 percent by 2030 under the current pension scheme. Several other countries in the region will also face large increases in pension and health care expenditures.
Latin America and the Caribbean, a historically low-saving region, may become the lowest-saving region by 2030. Although demographics will play a positive role, as dependency ratios are projected to fall through 2025, financial market development (which reduces precautionary saving) and a moderation in economic growth will play a counterbalancing role. Similarly, the rising and then falling impact of demography on labor force growth means that the investment rate is expected to rise in the short run, and then gradually fall. However, the relationship between inequality and saving in the region suggests an alternative scenario. As in other regions, poorer households tend to save much less; thus, improvements in earning capacity, rising incomes, and reduced inequality have the potential not only to boost national saving but, more importantly, to break poverty traps perpetuated by low saving by poor households.
The Middle East and North Africa has significant scope for financial market development, which has the potential to sustain investment but also, along with aging, to reduce saving. Thus, current account surpluses may also decline moderately up to 2030, depending on the pace of financial market development. The region is in a relatively early phase of its demographic transition: characterized by a still fast growing population and labor force, but also a rising share of elderly. Changes in household structure may also impact saving patterns, with a transition from intergenerational households and family-based old age support to smaller households and greater reliance on asset income in old age. The region has the lowest use of formal financial institutions for saving by low-income households, and scope for financial markets to play a significantly greater role in household saving.
South Asia will remain one of the highest saving and highest investing regions until 2030. However, with the scope for rapid economic growth and financial development, results for saving, investment, and capital flows will vary significantly: in a scenario of more rapid economic growth and financial market development, high investment rates will be sustained while saving falls significantly, implying large current account deficits. South Asia is a young region, and by about 2035 is likely to have the highest ratio of working- to nonworking-age people of any region in the world. The general shift in investment away from agriculture towards manufacturing and service sectors is likely to be especially pronounced in South Asia, with the region’s share of total investment in manufacturing expected to nearly double, and investment in the service sector to increase by more than 8 percentage points, to over two-thirds of total investment.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s investment rate will be steady due to robust labor force growth. It will be the only region to not see a decrease in its saving rate in a scenario of moderate financial market development, since aging will not be a significant factor. In a scenario of faster growth, poorer African countries will experience deeper financial market development, and foreign investors will become increasingly willing to finance investment in the region. Sub-Saharan Africa is currently the youngest of all regions, with the highest dependency ratio. This ratio will steadily decrease throughout the time horizon of this report and beyond, bringing a long lasting demographic dividend. The region will have the greatest infrastructure investment needs over the next two decades (relative to GDP). At the same time, there will likely be a shift in infrastructure investment financing toward greater participation by the private sector, and substantial increases in private capital inflows, particularly from other developing regions.
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