A fourth alternative is the widespread automation of service jobs as well as manufacturing, to accomplish the work needed to support accustomed living standards. However, this requires development of a means other than wages to distribute wealth and to provide both a living income and a fulfilling occupation for workers and would-be workers displaced by machines and software.
Barring enforcement of strict immigration controls, rapid migration will continue from the Southern Hemisphere to the North, and especially from former colonies to Europe. A growing percentage of job applicants in the United States and Europe will be recent immigrants from developing countries.
Implications for Hospitality and Travel: Rapid population growth, compared with other developed lands, will preserve America’s place at the top of the global economy, with China taking second place from the European Union. This will help to keep the hospitality and travel industries growing rapidly.
2. Population of the developed world is living longer.
Each generation lives longer and remains healthier than the last. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, every generation in the United States has lived three years longer than the previous one. An 80-year-old in 1950 could expect 6.5 more years of life; today's 80-year-olds are likely to survive 8.5 more years. Life expectancy in Australia, Japan, and Switzerland is now over 75 years for males and over 80 for females. A major reason for this improvement is the development of new pharmaceuticals and medical technologies that are making it possible to prevent or cure diseases that would have been fatal to earlier generations. Medical advances that slow the fundamental process of aging now seem to be within reach. (This is a controversial issue within the medical community, but the evidence appears quite strong.) Such treatments could well help today’s younger generations live routinely beyond the century mark.
Assessment: See the Assessment: for Trend 1.
Implications: Global demand for products and services aimed at the elderly will grow quickly in the immediate future, but this trend may pass as geriatric medicine improves the health of the elderly.
Developed countries may face social instability as a result of competition for resources between retirement-age Boomers and their working-age children and grandchildren. At the present rate of growth, public spending on retirement benefits in the United States and other developed countries could be one fourth of GDP by 2050, even as the number of workers available to support each retiree declines sharply.
Barring dramatic advances in geriatric medicine, the cost of health care is destined to skyrocket throughout the developed lands. This could create the long-expected crisis in health-care financing and delivery. However, dramatic advances in geriatric medicine are all but inevitable. Paying the high cost of new drugs, technologies, and therapies will reduce the overall cost of caring for patients who otherwise would have suffered from disorders delayed, eased, or cured by such advances. In the end, these reductions will offset many of the expected increases, leaving the average health-care bill in the developed lands much lower than the doomsayers predict.
Any practical extension of the human life span will prolong health as well and will reduce the incidence of late-life disorders such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and probably Alzheimer’s disease. This would dramatically reduce demand for products and services in the senior market, at least in the developed world. FI believes this development is nearer than even many researchers expect.
Healthier aging in the developed world may offer new hope to the world’s poorer, sicker lands. Faced with declining growth in their pharmaceutical industries, western nations—and particularly the United States—are likely to subsidize research and treatment for diseases that burden the poor countries of Africa and Asia. This will give those lands their first real prospects for economic growth and improved quality of life.