Industrialization raises educational levels, changes attitudes toward authority, reduces fertility, alters gender roles, and encourages broader political participation. This process is just beginning throughout the developing world. Witness the growing literacy, declining fertility, and broad voter turnout seen in India over the last decade. Developed societies increasingly take their cue from Generation X and the Millennial generation (aka Gen Y or Generation Dot-com), rather than the Baby Boomers who dominated the industrialized world’s thinking for most of four decades. Post-September 11 fear of terrorist attacks has led Americans to accept almost without comment security measures that their traditional love of privacy once would have made intolerable.
Assessment: This trend will continue for at least the next two decades in the industrialized lands and two generations in the developing world.
Implications: The growing influence of the post-BabyBoom generations will tend to homogenize basic attitudes throughout the world, because Generation Xers and especially the Millennials around the globe have more in common with each other than with their parents.
The highly polarized political environment that has plagued the United States since the 1980s will slowly moderate as results-oriented Generation Xers and Millennials begin to dominate the national dialogue.
As national security concerns have begun to lose their immediacy, family issues are regaining their significance in American society: long-term health care, day care, early childhood education, antidrug campaigns, and the environment.
Concerns about health care, education, and the environment already are shaping the 2008 presidential campaign.
Demand for greater accountability and transparency in business will be crucial for countries that wish to attract international investors.
Implications for Hospitality and Travel: Vacations also are becoming more active and participatory, as tourists become less interested in “go-and-see” and more eager to go-and-do. This is the trend behind the growth of adventure tourism and ecology-oriented travel.
The trend is toward extreme quality, and convenience. Customers want constant pampering, luxurious accommodations, and fresh meals that seem like labors of love—all at a price that will not wound the consumer’s conscience.
“Authenticity” is another key value. Tourists who go to see other lands, rather than surf their beaches, want to find unique natural and cultural features that survive as close as possible to their original form. Travel experiences that remind guests of Navajo Indian blankets with “Made in China” tags will leave visitors feeling that they might as well have visited their local mall instead.
8. Privacy, once a defining right for Americans, is dying quickly.
Internet communications, a basic part of life for many people, are nearly impossible to protect against interception, and governments around the world are working to ensure their unfettered access to them. Corporate databases are collecting and marketing data on individual credit-worthiness, incomes, spending patterns, brand choices, medical conditions, and lifestyles. While privacy regulations bar distribution of much personal information in the European Union, restrictions in the United States are much weaker. Widespread surveillance of private individuals is technically feasible and economically viable, as tiny, powerful cameras now cost next to nothing. Increased surveillance has become socially acceptable in an age when many people fear terrorism and crime. Britons are caught on camera an estimated 300 times per day, Americans about 200.
Assessment: Pessimists could say that privacy already is a thing of the past; society is merely coming to recognize its loss. We believe that enough effective privacy survives outside the most authoritarian countries to justify noting its continued erosion. However, this trend could easily reach its logical conclusion within ten years.
Implications: In the future, privacy is likely to be defined, not by the ability to keep information truly secret, but by the legal power to restrict its distribution. Even this limited form of privacy will be eroded as both government and private organizations find legal justification for their interest in personal information. Once access is granted to any type of information, it is unlikely ever to be rescinded.
Most surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act will survive, even if the law itself is repealed or modified.
In the absence of a major terrorist event, most Americans will continue to consider privacy a “right,” and privacy-related lawsuits are likely to proliferate as more people feel violated or inconvenienced by surveillance. However, courts will be unsympathetic to such suits for so long as conservative appointees dominate the bench.
In large and medium-size cities around the world, spaces that remain unwatched by video cameras will continue to shrink.