Rise of the Next-Pats: how technology is helping us live more global lives


Sophie Curtis

September 30, 2015

New technologies are allowing people to throw off the traditional ties of nationality and background and embrace a more connected, global citizenship, according to a new report

There’s a new type of digital native in town – researchers have identified a new demographic known as the Next-Pats, a social group that has embraced the possibilities provided by technology to lead more connected, global lives.

The trend has been fueled by the ” sharing economy “, led by companies such as Airbnb, Uber and TransferWise (who compiled the report), which is helping to remove the barriers of cost and accessibility, allowing people from all social backgrounds to adopt more fluid, international lifestyles.

“An evolution of the expatriate who leaves one country for another, the Next-Pat is transnational in outlook and behaviour. They see the world as without borders, they connect internationally and embrace the unknown.”
The Rise of the Next-Pats

Money transfer service Transferwise conducted the research along with 8 academics and philosophers from the US, UK, France, Germany and Estonia, surveying 2,500 people, aged between18 and 65.

They found that unlike expats, who are identified as people moving abroad because of their financial or career status, and are often part of a perceived “social elite”, there are no specific demographic traits of a Next-Pat. What unifies the group is their approach to life.

Twice as likely to work, live or study overseas than the rest of the population, they do not see geographical borders as boundaries to experience and growth.

They are also entrepreneurial, being seven times more likely to embrace risk than other people, and three times more likely to see technology as providing the potential and opportunity to live or work wherever they want in the world.

While expats often live in isolated communities based on shared background and nationality, Next-Pats are transnational – rooted in their home country and also in the communities they adopt, according to the research.

They care equally about global and local issues with 83pc feeling strongly about poverty in less developed countries and homelessness in their own country, and 81pc getting involved in local activities.

“What was once just for the elite is now accessible to many,” said John Armstrong, senior adviser to the vice-chancellor of Melbourne University and author of How To Worry Less About Money.

“For example, I can sleep on people’s sofa, rent an apartment, it’s easier, more spontaneous. The key is what makes it possible: mentality, not how much money they have.”

The number of UK Next-Pats is rising rapidly, having trebled over the past five years from 8pc in 2010 to 25pc today, according to the report.

By 2020, it predicts that nearly half (44pc) of UK citizens will be part of the ‘Next-Pat’ demographic.

The phenomenon isn’t tied to one specific age group or social background, but the highest proportion (33pc) of Next-Pats falls into the 25-34 age bracket.

“The younger generation, because of the lack of security in the world, has been incentivised to have a wide range of experience in the early stage of life which other generations didn’t,” said Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology at New York University.

However, more than half (57pc) of the people in this social group are married or living as such, 38pc are parents, and nearly one in 10 (9pc) are in the 55-65 age bracket, showing that age and family commitments are no barrier to the Next-Pat lifestyle.

“It has hit the tipping point recently, I am convinced of that,” said Taavet Hinrikus, chief executive of TransferWise.

“You can be living next to a rice field in Bali and you will have access to a broadband connection which means you can do work from there and stay connected to your family and friends. That wasn’t possible a couple of years ago.”

The trend also extends far beyond the UK. Next-Pats are set to exceed half the population in the USA and Estonia by 2020, and 37pc and 32pc of the adult population in France and Germany respectively.

The report claims that there are four defining traits that make Next-Pats easily identifiable – they have a positive view of taking risk, a self-starting mentality, a belief that life is for living and they enjoy engaging with others culturally and socially.

“People’s lives are getting more globalised in really quite an intimate way. That takes people into more complex relationships with where they live in the world, where their commitments are, where the people love happen to live, and I’m sure this is just going to grow,” said Mr Armstrong.

“I don’t think that it’s technology that is driving, this, it’s a much bigger thing about the human condition that’s driving it, but technology is enabling it to happen.”

This article was written by Sophie Curtis from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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