The aging of the world's population due to longer life spans is viewed by institutional investors as the trend that will most influence the global economy and markets over the next 30 years, according to a new survey.

Seventy-eight percent of 185 institutional investors surveyed cited the aging population as a significant trend shaping the global economic and investment landscape, according to a news release today.

The survey was conducted by New York-based global alternative investments firm Investcorp; New York-based Mercury Capital Advisors; the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Singapore; and ICR, a New York-based strategic communications and advisory firm. The survey respondents represented more than $10 trillion in assets under management held by a variety of institutional investors, the firms said.

"As responsible stewards of capital, institutional investors recognize and have started planning accordingly for the market forces that will influence investment portfolios and society in the years to come," said Rishi Kapoor, co-chief executive officer of Investcorp, in a prepared statement. "Allocating across the right markets, asset classes and time horizons is also critical, especially during periods of economic and geopolitical uncertainties."

The survey respondents pointed out other top trends over the next three decades, including artificial intelligence and machine learning (69%), the impact of climate change (66%), urbanization and smart cities (42%) and the redefinition of global trade (40%).

Those citing the aging population said they expect the trend to peak around the years 2030 to 2032. Sixty-two percent of survey participants said they expect to act on the trend through asset allocations in private markets, with 38% of that group looking toward private equity and 21% looking at real estate. Only 26% said they would take advantage of the trend through public markets.

The survey noted that senior and junior investment professionals differ on the timing of the trends cited, with senior-level professionals thinking trends will peak earlier, on average, than their younger counterparts.

"The data shows that those who drive the investments can have a very different opinion to those who act," said IMD researcher Arturo Bris, who added that a variety of companies had created “shadow boards” that consist “of non-executive employees working alongside senior executives on strategic initiatives.”

“This leverages the younger groups' insights, diversifies the perspectives that executives are exposed to, and provides future leaders with invaluable experience,” Bris said.