The Rule of 72 is a great mental math shortcut to estimate the
effect of any growth rate, from quick financial calculations to
population estimates. Here’s the formula:
Years to double = 72 / Interest Rate
This formula is useful for financial estimates and understanding
the nature of compound interest. Examples:

At 6% interest, your money takes 72/6 or 12 years to double. 

To double your money in 10 years, get an interest rate of
72/10 or 7.2%. 

If your country’s GDP grows at 3% a year, the economy
doubles in 72/3 or 24 years. 

If your growth slips to 2%, it will double in 36 years. If
growth increases to 4%, the economy doubles in 18 years.
Given the speed at which technology develops, shaving years
off your growth time could be very important. 
You can also use the rule of 72 for expenses like inflation or
interest:

If inflation rates go from 2% to 3%, your money will lose
half its value in 36 or 24 years. 

If college tuition increases at 5% per year (which is faster
than inflation), tuition costs will double in 72/5 or about
14.4 years. If you pay 15% interest on your credit cards,
the amount you owe will double in only 72/15 or 4.8 years! 
The rule of 72 shows why a “small” 1% difference in inflation or
GDP expansion has a huge effect in forecasting models.
By the way, the Rule of 72 applies to anything that grows,
including population. Can you see why a population growth rate
of 3% vs 2% could be a huge problem for planning? Instead of
needing to double your capacity in 36 years, you only have 24.
Twelve years were shaved off your schedule with one percentage
point.

