Academic journal article The Journal of Business Forecasting Methods & Systems

The Next Generation: A U.S. Forecast for the Year 2020

Academic journal article The Journal of Business Forecasting Methods & Systems

The Next Generation: A U.S. Forecast for the Year 2020

Article excerpt

Over next 25 years, the growth number of retirees will reduce entitlements to the affluent elderly. The huge percentage increase in the U.S. ethnic population relative to the white will result in repeated attempts to eliminate affirmative action and quotas in admissions, hiring and promotion. Many more women will attain positions of power and prestige in the professions and management which may have a profound impact on our society. The fastest growing occupations will be in the areas of health care and information processing. Crime of all types will increase but violent crime will increase much faster. The U.S. lawyer population will reach 1.3 million by 2020, enabling America to continue to claim the dubious title of the litigation capital of the world. The U.S. will see a definite decline in its technological supremacy as other nations become more prosperous and develop their scientific and engineering taients. The educational performance of U.S. pupils in science and math must improve. Otherwise, its living standards will fall in the competitive world of the 21st century. These are some of the findings of the study recently completed by the author.


To present a picture of America in the year 2020, trend line projections of selected U.S. variables are prepared. Trends were prepared by using simple methods. Where past trends are approximately linear, extrapolation has been made by assuming constant increment per year; where exponentially increasing, extrapolation has assumed constant growth rate per year. Bureau of Census proj ections of a trend are used where available.

What is presented here is one among many possible scenarios of what America will look like in the year 2020. It is assumed here that past trends will continue into the future. The article answers such questions as: What kind of country will your children experience in the year 2020? What kinds of jobs are they likely to hold? Who are likely to be their classmates and their neighbors? Will the level of crime be such that they will be afraid to go out at night? Are inter-ethnic and inter-age-group conflicts going to grow? Can they rely on Social Security when they retire? In short, will they have about the same or a much different quality of life as you have today?


We are getting older and grayer at an increasing rate (see Table 1). (Table 1 omitted.) In 1960, 9.2% (16.6 million) of our population was over age 65; by 1990 that figure jumped to 12.4% (31 million); and by 2020 it is projected to grow to 16.6% (53.5 million). As a result, we can expect an increase in sales of housing, appliances and travel related services oriented toward the aged.

Uppermost on these senior citizens' minds is security, defined by responsive public safety, reliable financial investments, and quality medical care. Because the grays vote, they have a political clout. Besides, they own assets, including time, and thus have the power to reinforce their voting power. They are organized into the biggest lobby in the U.S., the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). It is expected that they will support gun control, stiffer sentencing, low inflation and comprehensive medical care, including long-term care for those who can no longer take care of themselves. The cost of this care is already causing some members of Congress to look for ways to generate tax revenues to pay for it. One possibility might be to lower the $600,000 federal estate tax exemption equivalent to $200,000 and/or raise the maximum federal estate rate from 55% to 70%.

The grays have much wealth to tax. By 2015, according to the 1989 Survey of Consumer Finances, the elderly will annually bequeath assets worth of $336 billion to 3.4 million recipients, each bequest averaging $99,000. A more astounding figure is that during the period of 1990 and 2040 the cumulative total of $10.4 trillion is expected to be bequeathed to roughly 115 million people, averaging about $90,000 per bequest. …

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