Futurist Sees Old and Young Straining the Middle-Aged
Starting in 2008 and 2009 and hitting its peak in 2016, the U.S. population will be heading into an hourglass pattern in which the numbers of older and younger people will be at top levels and those who are middle-aged will be at their low-point, exerting some new pressures on American households, according to Andrew Zolli.
A consultant who analyzes critical cultural, technological and global trends, Zolli will be the keynote speaker at Building for Boomers & Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium 2007, which takes place May 30 to June 1 in Denver. The keynote speech is being presented in association with National Geographic Live.
Zolli was recently named one of the fellows of the National Geographic Society, where he is leading development of a global initiative to envision new scenarios for life in 2040 to 2050.
In a recent telephone interview, the futurist indicated that the nation is heading for substantial changes in the home and family structure as middle-aged people who represent a disproportionately small share of the population find their children and their aging parents counting on them for various kinds of support.
“Women born in 1972 or later are statistically all but guaranteed to take care of their mothers longer then their mothers took care of them,” Zolli said.
The growing size of the elderly population will also help reinforce the growing trend for green home building, according to Zolli, because the older you are, the greener you are.
“People over 55 are three times as likely to read the environmental impact statement of the companies they invest in,” Zolli said. Boomers share this concern for the environment with the young “millennials” who were born between 1982 and 2000.
“Generational affinities skip a generation,” he explained. Because the boomers and the millennials constitute such large numbers of the population right now, Zolli said that he expects their “green” attitudes to create a shift in environmental values.
Zolli also predicted that the house will start providing a service platform for the delivery of medical services. Health care technology has been changing so rapidly that “the person who will live to be 130 is probably alive right now,” he said. This increase in longevity is going to “drive a change in embedded health care technologies in the home,” he said, “and we’ll start to see branded health care services in the home.”
Zolli said he will be elaborating on these trends in his presentation at the 50+ Housing Symposium, and will also include more discussion of demographics and what he calls “the overabundance and complexity of consumer choice.”
Although advance registration for Building for Boomers & Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium 2007 is closed, attendees can register on site. For more information, click here (www.nahb.org/build4boomers).
Zolli’s firm, Z + Partners, helps global companies and institutions see, understand and respond to complex change. He is also the curator of the annual PopTech conference, an elite annual gathering that explores the social impact of technology and the shape of things to come. Zolli has served as futurist-in-residence at both Popular Science and American Demographics magazines, as well as American Public Medea's Marketplace.