- June 1, 2014: Vol. 26, Number 6

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Fade to gray: Declining birth rates and aging populations around the world are a bad omen for real estate investors

by Mike Consol


It is the Catch-22 of an economically developing world. As the planet becomes wealthier and more widely educated, fertility rates decline and populations age.

Those demographic mega-trends are a one-two punch to the planet’s continued economic expansion. Dwindling populations, economists tell us, are synonymous with shrinking markets and retreating economic opportunity. How does an economy expand when its base of participants withers away?

Already, populations are dwindling in places including Germany, Japan, Italy and Russia, and many other nations have trend lines that suggest contraction is in the offing. Based on current fertility rates, the U.N. projects that Greece is on track to lose 20 percent of its population by 2050, while Portugal will lose 17 percent and Belgium 11 percent. Germany, one of the world’s prime targets for institutional real estate investment, is shedding 100,000 people per year.

Russia, one of the vaunted BRIC c

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