Short-term bumps in an economy are unavoidable. Except in a few rare cases, recessions strike about once every seven or eight years on average.

There’s not much you can do about an occasional recession. But either way, we’re more concerned about the long-term. Demographics are the best indicator when predicting economic performance over the span of several decades.

Why are demographics so important when judging a country’s future prospects? For starters, things like median age and population growth have crucial implications for an economy’s growth.

More importantly, such statistics can be estimated very closely – even a generation or two in advance. Birth rates normally have a gradual, predictable pattern. They aren’t subject to the market’s day-to-day whims.

Population growth naturally leads to more sustainable GDP growth. Not only does a nation’s economic output increase with more people, but large domestic markets lure foreign investment easier than smaller ones.

Furthermore, a young workforce is far more efficient than an aged one. Public services such as healthcare and pensions are a burden on taxpayers. Less money has to be spent on these things when a population is young and healthy.

Not every Asian market looks positive. For example, Japan’s population is among the fastest aging in the world. China’s situation is also dire with population decline expected to start around the year 2030.

There’s great potential across South and Southeast Asia though. Here are the countries with Asia’s best demographics.

 

Manila, capital of the Philippines, is going through a phase of rapid growth. More people means greater competition for a limited amount of prime real estate.


1. The Philippines

Boasting Asia’s youngest population with a median age of only 23.9, the Philippines is positioned to grow well into the 21st century.

The island nation already has one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. GDP rose by 6.9% in 2017 outpacing even China. But unlike China which will soon face a demographic crisis created by its one-child policy, the Philippines will continue thriving over the long-term.

Their population of 103 million will increase to a staggering 142 million before the year 2050. Meanwhile, a young and educated workforce will drive growth for many decades to come.

 

2. Cambodia

Cambodia has all the factors which make the Philippines attractive but to a slightly lesser degree.

This emerging Southeast Asian market has a median age of 24.9 – just a year older than the first country on our list. Cambodia’s population will almost double between now and the middle of this century.

Despite barely losing the top spot, Cambodia is still arguably better for investment than the Philippines. Lax foreign ownership laws, less risk of natural disaster, lower taxes, and a strategic partnership with China all give Cambodia an edge.

 

3. Bangladesh

Moving into South Asia, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated nations on the planet. 160 million people are crammed into an area about the size of Louisiana.

Bangladesh will get even more cramped in the future. Population is set to increase to 200 million by the middle of this century, driven by a high birth rate and young population.

These factors will turn Bangladesh into a massive consumer market – setting aside any implications for the average citizen’s quality of life.

Meanwhile, the nation’s capital of Dhaka will transform into one of the world’s largest megacities. Central real estate in Dhaka should outperform due to the increased demand.

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About Reid Kirchenbauer

Reid Kirchenbauer is the Founder of InvestAsian. He's an accomplished stock trader and property investor in Thailand, Cambodia, and many other places. He's been featured in publications such as Forbes, Nomad Capitalist, Property Report, and Seeking Alpha. Download his free investment guide by clicking here.

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