Upside

Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead

 Upside

Author: Kenneth W. Gronbach
Pub Date: April 2017
Print Edition: $27.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434697
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434703

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Excerpt

Introduction

Wherever people are, they are always making a demographic impact. Whether a population is large or small, people always leave their mark. I believe that the science and art of demographics is grossly underrated and unappreciated. It is a simple science, really, that deals with live births, fertility, immigration, migration, aging and death. This book was written to demonstrate the enormous power of counting people, promote the understanding of population change through time, and show how distinct population groups and shifts in population size significantly impact the world around them.

While the impacts of shifting and changing demography are global, the eye of the perfect demographic storm is in the continent of North America in general and in the United States in particular.

Immigrants will continue to pour into the country and enhance and complement the U.S. population at a rate of about 1 million per year. Our fertility remains above replacement level and we are having enough children—about four million per year—to sustain the country for future generations. The largest generation in United States history, Generation Y, is moving out of their parents’ homes, entering the workforce, setting up households, marrying and having children. One third of the United States’ population of 320 million or so—comprised of about 40 million African Americans, 55 million Hispanics and 17 million Asians—will benefit socio-economically from a new and honest diversity. The largest generation ever to retire in The United States will do just that. Baby Boomers will retire at the rate of about four million per year. This will create new markets, cause a drop in unemployment and dramatically boost the economy of the Southern and Western “Sun Belt” states. It is all good!

There is more. While the demographic climate of the U.S. looks especially good, the demographic-based outlook for much of the rest of the world is bleak. The labor forces of The European Union, Eastern Europe, and all of Asian will be decimated by poor fertility. A country that does not have babies cannot expect to maintain its numbers of adult workers, consumers and taxpayers over the course of 20 to 30 years. The net result will be a steady flow of manufacturing back to the U.S. to take advantage of the best labor force in U.S. history.

This book is about finding the potential “upside” opportunities borne by changing demographics. While in many cases demographic change tends to be gradual, sometimes change comes on much more quickly. In both cases, though, recognizing the potential upside can be difficult.

Generally speaking potential upside opportunities are more prevalent with growing population shifts than they are with declining populations shifts. And, as with the above referenced population change in general, it is also difficult to foresee the potential downside caused by population declines.

I sometimes refer to growing population shifts that represent potential upside as “tsunamis,” and often refer to declining population shifts that represent potential downside as “sinkholes.” The former represents a counterintuitive metaphor because I am seeking positive results from it. Nevertheless, “tsunami” perfectly describes the power of large growing shifts in population, since these shifts are immensely powerful, hard to see, and incredibly challenging because the power is not really recognized until, like a tsunami, the shift actually hits. Just think of America’s Baby Boomers, who, as you will read in the pages ahead, have collectively acted like a tsunami as they’ve aged through all the key epochs of life. And now, as they enter the retirement years, as by far the largest such cohort to ever retire, they will sweep over all things related to retirement like a tsunami—an “upside tsunami.”

Interestingly, people knew that this Boomer retirement tsunami was coming, but for the most part America heard a warning siren—that sounded way too early—and has been looking out to sea ever since in a vain effort to mark its approach prior to making preparations. Well, the Tsunami is hitting the shoreline, but we’re still not ready for it.

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