2021 will be a year of luck, risk taking and chance according to The Economist's The World in 2021
The annual special launches this month, featuring future-gazing content from The Economist's editorial team, a newly appointed editor and a wide range of global contributors
The Economist launched The World in 2021, its annual look at the important themes and trends that will shape the year ahead. The Economist predicts that 2021 will be a particularly unpredictable year given the interactions between the still flourishing covid-19 pandemic, an uneven economic recovery and fractious geopolitics.
Following last year's edition, Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist, was named the new editor of The World in and its larger franchise, The World Ahead. Under Mr Standage's leadership, a special section was added to this year's edition called Aftershocks, which will consider the lessons and opportunities of a post-crisis world.
Reflecting on this year's The World in 2021, Tom Standage said: "The number 21 is connected with luck, risk, taking chances and rolling the dice. That seems appropriate for what promises to be a year of unusual uncertainty." Mr Standage continued: "The great prize on offer in 2021, of course, is the chance to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. But in the meantime risks abound, to health, economic vitality and social stability."
Now in its 35th year, The World in 2021 will be available within The Economist app, online today and on newsstands on December 1st (UK) / December 4th (US). The annual edition can also be purchased at The Economist Store at Global Book Corporation
The top ten themes cited for 2021 are:
- Fights over vaccines. As the first vaccines become available in quantity, the focus will shift from the heroic effort of developing them to the equally daunting task of distributing them. Vaccine diplomacy will accompany fights within and between countries over who should get them and when. A wild card: how many people will refuse a vaccine when offered? https://www.economist.com/TWI2021Vaccine
- A mixed economic recovery. As economies bounce back from the pandemic the recovery will be uneven, as local outbreaks and clampdowns come and go—and governments pivot from keeping companies on life-support to helping workers who have lost their jobs. The gap between strong and weak firms will widen. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021EconomicRecovery
- Patching up the new world disorder. How much will Joe Biden, newly installed in the White House, be able to patch up a crumbling rules-based international order? The Paris treaty and the Iran deal are obvious places to start. But the crumbling predates Donald Trump, and will outlast his presidency. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021WorldDisorder
- More US-China tensions. Don't expect Mr Biden to call off the trade war with China. Instead, he will want to mend relationships with allies to wage it more effectively. Many countries, from Africa to South-East Asia, are doing their best to avoid picking sides as the tension rises. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021USChina
- Companies on the front line. Another front for the US-China conflict is companies, and not just the obvious examples of Huawei and TikTok, as business becomes even more of a geopolitical battlefield. As well as pressure from above, bosses also face pressure from below, as employees and customers demand that they take stands on climate change and social justice, where politicians have done too little. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021Business
- After the tech-celeration. In 2020 the pandemic accelerated the adoption of many technological behaviours, from video-conferencing and online shopping to remote working and distance learning. In 2021 the extent to which these changes will stick, or snap back, will become clearer https://www.economist.com/TWI2021TechCeleration
- A less footloose world. Tourism will shrink and change shape, with more emphasis on domestic travel. Airlines, hotel chains and aircraft manufacturers will struggle, as will universities that rely heavily on foreign students. Cultural exchange will suffer, too. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021Travel
- An opportunity on climate change. One silver lining amid the crisis is the chance to take action on climate change, as governments invest in green recovery plans to create jobs and cut emissions. How ambitious will countries' reduction pledges be at the United Nations climate conference, delayed from 2020? https://www.economist.com/TWI2021Climate
- The year of déjà vu. That is just one example of how the coming year may feel, in many respects, like a second take on 2020, as events including the Olympics, Dubai Expo, and many other political, sporting and commercial gatherings do their best to open a year later than planned. Not all will succeed. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021DejaVu
- A wake-up call for other risks. Academics and analysts, many of whom have warned of the danger of a pandemic for years, will try to exploit a narrow window of opportunity to get policymakers to take on other neglected risks, such as antibiotic resistance and nuclear terrorism, more seriously. Wish them luck. https://www.economist.com/TWI2021Risks
The World in... sits alongside the annual summertime supplement, The World If... as the twin pillars of The Economist's future-gazing franchise, The World Ahead. They are augmented by a monthly podcast of the same name, The World Ahead, which considers what-if conjectures and provocative prophecies. It's available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher and TuneIn.
The Economist's journalists are joined in The World in 2021 by leaders from business, politics, science and the arts, who add their ideas for the coming year: Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party; Michael Tubbs, mayor of Stockton, California; Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission; Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished fellow, Asia Research Institute; Nathan Law, pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong; Alan Doss, outgoing president, Kofi Annan Foundation; Mo Ibrahim, chairman, Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Claudia López, mayor of Bogotá; António Guterres, secretary general, United Nations; Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris; Lynn Jurich, CEO, Sunrun; Erica Brescia, chief operating officer, Github; Azeem Azhar, CEO, Exponential View; Ursula Bassler, president, the CERN council; Toby Ord, Future of Humanity Institute; Michele Wucker, strategist and author; Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google; Tamara Rojo, artistic director, English National Ballet; Carmen Reinhart, chief economist, the World Bank; Seth Berkley, CEO, GAVI; Sarah al-Amiri, UAE science minister and Hope science lead.
This mix of contributors makes The World in 2021 uniquely authoritative in its analysis and prediction of trends and events—and has won the franchise a loyal and growing following around the world.
About The Economist
With a growing global audience and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognised and well-read content in the world. In addition to the content being fully available on the website, the flagship print edition is published weekly, and The Economist also produces Espresso, a daily news app, Global Business Review, a bilingual English-Chinese product and Economist VR, a virtual-reality app. Economist Radio produces several podcasts a week and Economist Films produces short- and long-form video. The Economist maintains robust social communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium and other social networks. A recipient of many editorial and marketing awards, The Economist was named the most trusted news source by the 2017 Trusting News Project Report.