10 Charts That Capture How the World Is Changing
From Homeownership to Digital Media Consumption, Climate Change to Job Growth
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10 Charts That Capture How the World Is Changing
My colleague Damir and his brother Dino have been hosting a series of New York dinners in which they ask each guest to bring one interesting chart of their choosing. Those charts then become jumping-off points for conversation and debate.
I love the concept, and I thought I’d extend it to Digital Native. When I started this newsletter—nearly three years ago now—each piece included a “Chart of the Week.” I eventually cut Chart of the Week in favor of long-form, single-topic writing, but this week brings back the charts—and then some. I’ll share 10 charts that I find interesting and emblematic of a broader theme. Then next week, I’ll share chart submissions from members of the Index investing team, highlighting trends we find worth paying attention to.
The 10 charts below cover a wide array of themes, leaping from homeownership to digital media, climate to job growth. They’re intentionally inconsistent and far-ranging. I usually go narrow and deep in Digital Native, but this week I’ll touch briefly on a variety of topics. The common thread for each chart is that it embodies an important trend. My hope is that this is a visual and engaging way to capture how the world is changing.
Let’s jump in 📈
1️⃣ Homeownership in 2022
I love this chart because 2022 stands out so vividly. For years, new homes were consistently located 10-15 miles from prior homes. This year, the median distance is up 3x+ to 50 miles. This increase is pandemic-driven, with geography becoming less of a constraint on work. This chart will have all sorts of interesting ripple effects. As one example—and since yesterday was Election Day—how does this 2020 chart of red vs. blue counties evolve in a post-COVID world, with Democrats leaving urban areas to settle in Montana and Texas and Utah?
Startups are building on this rethinking of geography. Companies like Pacaso and Summer make it easier to buy and manage a second home. Here lets you invest in vacation rentals like stocks. Kindred is a home-swapping marketplace that hopes to expand the home-sharing economy beyond Airbnb’s professionalized homes, to everyone. We’re still in the early innings of seeing how evolving homeownership behavior bleeds into how people live and work.
2️⃣ Daily In-App Engagement
During Q2 2022, the average TikTok user spent 95 minutes (!) in the app each day. That level of engagement is stunning, close to double that of Instagram and quintuple that of Snap. (It’s worth noting that I have one friend who averages 14 hours a day on TikTok. And no, I don’t know how that’s even possible.)
Netflix has had a rough 2022, losing subscribers two quarters in a row. The narrative centers around Netflix hitting a natural saturation point, or competing in a crowded streaming environment with OTT entrants like Disney+, HBO Max, and Apple TV+. But my view is that TikTok plays a deceptively large role here: there’s only so much time in the day, and TikTok is vacuuming up and more and more of it.
One frightening aspect of TikTok’s engagement levels (and I say this as a TikTok power user): the Chinese government is limiting use of Douyin (China’s version of TikTok, also made by Bytedance) to 40 minutes per day. And according to a new 60 Minutes report, Douyin’s content is far more educational—science experiments, museum exhibits, and so on. As Tristan Harris puts it: “China makes their domestic version a spinach version of TikTok, while they ship the opium version to the rest of the world.” It’s only a matter of time before the U.S. government cracks down on TikTok, either forcing a sale/spin-off or blocking it altogether. The former seems more likely to me. The latter, though, would be a deus ex machina for Meta, YouTube, and their respective copycats (Reels and YouTube Shorts).
3️⃣ The Resale Boom
Secondhand—and specifically resale—is an underrated industry. Secondhand is growing 11x faster than broader retail, on track to become a $77B market by 2025. By 2030, secondhand fashion will be nearly twice the size of fast fashion. The two are also interrelated: Gen Z has a penchant for SHEIN (who doesn’t like cheap clothes?) but also cares about the environment. The solution is resale, with millions of consumers turning to Depop, Vinted, and Poshmark.
What interests me about secondhand is that it hasn’t really been figured out. Secondhand is a large industry with strong tailwinds—and yes, a number of secondhand marketplaces have gone public—but companies in the space tend to have poor unit economics. The secondhand experience, meanwhile, remains ripe with friction, particularly on the supply side: many people have things they’d love to sell, but they aren’t willing to go through the hassle of photographing items, chatting with 37 potential buyers, and managing the shipping or pick-up logistics. It’s a nightmare. That’s a tough problem to solve with software, but if someone can figure out supply, there’s a very large business to be built here.
4️⃣ Our Mental Health Crisis
We’re experiencing a mental health crisis, particularly among teens and young adults:
There are many contributing factors: social media use; the Great Recession; the pandemic. The bright side is that younger generations are more willing to talk about mental health and to seek help. Stigmas are breaking down, regulations are changing (therapy is increasingly covered by insurance), and access is improving through technology. Startups like Headway, Sondermind, Lyra, and Grow Therapy are leading the way.
5️⃣ Multipolar Pop Culture
Last month, The Economist broke down how pop culture has gone global. In short, the English-speaking West used to dominate global culture, but that’s changing. Squid Game (Korean) is the most-watched show on Netflix; Khaby Lame (Senegalese-Italian) is the most-followed person on TikTok; Bad Bunny (Puerto Rican) is the most-streamed artist on Spotify. An excerpt from the piece:
Two things have driven the emergence of multipolar pop culture. The first is economic growth in countries that until recently were poor. Rising incomes give consumers more money to spend, much of which goes to local musicians and film-makers. More money in turn means more artists.
The second factor is the rise of the internet, which has created many more opportunities to put out content. Netflix, Spotify and the like are global, which makes it easier for local productions to earn fans overseas. Most democratic of all are social-media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, which let aspiring performers anywhere in the world create songs or art that can be distributed at no cost.
Of the 50 most-streamed songs on Spotify over the past five years, 47 were in English. But English’s dominance is slipping. In India, Indonesia, and South Korea, the share of English-language tracks in the top 100 has fallen from 52% to 31% over the past five years. In Spain and Latin America, the share has dropped from 25% to 14%.
The same story is playing out on TV: in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia, only about half of the most-watched shows are North American. In Japan and South Korea, it’s only 35%.
One interesting anecdote to end on: an analytics group studied celebrities talking about Paris Fashion Week this year and found half of the 10 most-valuable voices (in terms of the boost they gave to brands) came from emerging markets like the Philippines and Brazil. Only one French celebrity, and no Americans, made the list.
6️⃣ Price Changes in Consumer Goods & Services
I’ve shared this chart in the past, including two years ago in November 2020’s How Technology and COVID Are Reinventing Education. But it continues to be one of the best visualizations of technology’s uneven impact—
If you bought a flatscreen TV in 2000, it would’ve cost you $5,000. If you go to Best Buy today to buy that same TV, you can get it for $75. That’s a 98.5% drop in price. Yet a college graduate in 2000 paid $50K for her four-year degree at a public university; today, she has to shell out $100K (and $170K if she’s out-of-state).
Technology is making life more affordable, more accessible, and higher quality. But it has yet to reinvent sectors like education, housing, and healthcare, partly because they are three of the most regulated sectors in America. Education, in particular, has had a rough trajectory; here’s another visualization:
The cost of education is growing 8x faster than real wages (that stat is from before our current inflationary environment) and Americans collectively hold $1.5 trillion in student debt. We’re headed for a breaking point.
7️⃣ Kid Test Scores
Building on education, COVID has led to a massive drop in test scores:
We’ll see the ripple effects here for the next decade. What will they be? Potentially a boom for tutoring companies like Varsity Tutors or textbook-learning companies like Numerade. Perhaps growth in reskilling, vocational schools, and workforce development programs.
In tandem, we’re seeing a consistent drop in college enrollment:
Education is becoming prohibitively expensive, while delivering lower ROI for students in a fast-changing job market. Something’s gotta give. Education is ripe for a top-to-bottom rethinking.
8️⃣ Global Temperature Deviation from Average
Looking at this chart, you’re forced to appreciate the magnitude of our climate crisis:
Climate isn’t just a new vertical for investment and business creation, but a horizontal through-line cutting across every industry. Two charts from Damir’s dinner also showed how China is outpacing the rest of the world in solar and nuclear.
The West has a lot of catching up to do, and time is running out.
9️⃣ An Aging Population
One of the biggest demographic shifts in America: a rapidly aging population. Every day, 10,000 people in the US turn 65. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65; half the population is already over 50.
At the same time, the number of Americans under 18 will remain relatively flat (about 75 million), as the country’s birth rate slows. This means that the ratio of old-to-young will increase dramatically.
An aging population has all sorts of repercussions, and creates openings for new companies:
Baby Boomers control 70% of the country’s disposable income and will pass down $30 trillion over the next 20 years. FreeWill is a startup facilitating that wealth transfer through wills.
One in six Boomers lives alone; one in four is divorced; and one in seven is currently being treated for depression. Boomers are experiencing a loneliness crisis. Startups like Hank and GetSetUp alleviate loneliness in older Americans through interest-based classes and community gatherings.
Older Americans will also require more assistance. Companies like Papa offer companionship for the elderly. Birdie, a company we’ve partnered with at Index, offers a complete software solution for senior living and home care.
🔟 Fastest-Growing Jobs of the 2020s
A few years ago, a survey came out that caused a lot of hand-wringing. The survey revealed that the career today’s kids most aspire to is “YouTuber”—being an online creator was 2x as popular as being a pop star or movie star, and 3x as popular as being a professional athlete or astronaut. The survey was especially alarming because a similar survey in China revealed “Astronaut” as the most-desired career.
The survey never bothered me much (which I wrote about here at the time) because being a creator doesn’t deter one from being a doctor, teacher, or even astronaut. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I often use the example of my good friend Joel Bervell, a medical student and TikToker (500K followers and 17M likes) making content about racial bias in medicine. Joel will still be a doctor; he’ll simply also use his social channels to educate millions of people on an important topic.
Last month, the survey got an update for Gen Alpha (the survey targeted 1,000 5- to 8-year-olds), and the most-desired career category came out to be “doctor, nurse, or healthcare professional.” I can hear the sighs of relief.
The pandemic no doubt fueled much of this interest in healthcare. “Teacher” came in 2nd, mentioned by 16.5% of kids. (12% want to be TikTokers/YouTubers, 6% want to be influencers, and 3% want to be professional gamers.)
The good news is that healthcare is also the fastest-growing field for job openings:
All the blue bubbles are healthcare. The biggest blue bubble on the left (“home health”) ties into the above section on our aging population—older Americans will need caretakers.
Okay, I cheated—that was more than 10 charts. I added some extra charts to a few of the sections. But any of these charts or subjects could warrant its own deep-dive piece.
Next week I’ll share charts and trends from investors at Index. And if you come across a particularly interesting chart/graphic, I’d love to see it! You can reply to this email or DM me on Twitter at @rex_woodbury.
See you next week!
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