The Future of the U.S. Economy: 2050
Think back to 1967. The job you have today may not even have existed. The Internet, and all the jobs that have come with it, were decades away. The Detroit automakers were dominant. Quality of life was different, too: The median household income was an inflation-adjusted $40,261, compared with $50,303 in 2008. There were also a hundred million fewer of us; 1967 was the year the U.S. population hit 200 million. We passed the 300 million mark in 2006, and by 2050, there will very likely be more than 400 million Americans. The lifestyle of the average American may change just as much from 2010 to 2050 as it did from 1967 to 2006. The economy will especially undergo change.
1.The death of the suburbs is highly exaggerated.
In the 20th century, the suburbs became the primary place for Americans to live. But the recent housing market crash, high gas prices, and concerns about environmental sustainability have caused many to wonder how long suburbs will be able to grow. Kotkin writes that the suburbs will not only continue to grow; they will become even more like cities. "The suburbs of the future will in many ways be more diverse than the cities," according to Kotkin. While the suburbs of the 1950s were predominantly white, suburbs today have an increasing number of ethnic minorities and recent immigrants. A major reason suburbs are changing is that they are providing more jobs than ever. Historically, people living in bedroom communities outside of a city have commuted downtown to work. Suburbs are also becoming more appealing because they are developing their own cultural amenities. "Many have rebuilt town centers and revived Main Streets," says Kotkin.
This growth will be made possible -- and desirable, Kotkin argues -- because suburbs will become what he calls "greenurbia." Kotkin predicts that while cars will continue to be the dominant mode of transportation, fuel-economy improvements, more energy-efficient homes, and telecommuting will allow suburbs to coexist with a clean environment.
2. The rise of "luxury cities."
Cities, however, are not on the way
out. Kotkin points to
3. Jobs get more virtual.
Jobs are perhaps the biggest concern of
Americans today. Kotkin looks to new businesses that began during the
recession to point the way to the future of jobs. "There has been a huge
surge in the number of independent proprietorships," says Kotkin. Thanks
to the Internet, the average entrepreneur does not need a large
corporation in an office building to run a business and can instead find
people to help run the business online. "Some of these jobs are going to
places like China and India,
but they are also going to places like
That's not to say that physical locations for businesses will be
unnecessary or that rural towns in the heartland can be just as
innovative as large metropolitan areas. "You'll still have centers.
4. The decline of mobility.
Moving companies might not be the biggest boom industry this century. If you don't work from an office, you don't need to live in a particular city. Kotkin predicts that in the next 50 years, Americans will more often choose their communities and cities based on where they want to live, not where they want to work. "Once they find where they want to be, they will be less likely to move," he says. That decline in mobility would be a big change from the trend over the past 50 years, when it became common for Americans to move many times in their lifetime. Demographics provide another reason moving might decline: Aging baby boomers are more likely to stay put.
5. Less to fear from China.
America is becoming a more elderly
country, but it's not alone. Demographics, Kotkin argues, will prevent
China from eclipsing
Availbale at Amazon.com:
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(c) Matt Davies
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- Who to Blame for the Financial Crisis
- Partisan Stimulus Poisoned the Well
- Reading the Economic Tea Leaves
- Obama's Federal Budget Looking Backward and Ahead
- Breaking Down Obama's Budget
- Home Sales Stable After Tax-Credit 'Hangover'
- Future of Housing Demand: 4 Key Demographic Trends
- Why December Jobs Report Is Such a Bust
- 2010 Discounting Forecast: Retail and Auto
- Jobless Overwhelm Retraining Programs
- United States The Corporate State of America
- Global Political-Risk Outlook for 2010
The Future of the U.S. Economy: 2050 | Matthew Bandyk
(c) 2010 Matthew Bandyk