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Six Disruptive Demographic Trends

Dr. James Johnson spoke at the ULI Affordable Housing Conference about his research titled, Six Disruptive Demographic Trends: What Census 2010 Will Tell Us.  He points out that these six trends will dramatically impact the real estate development business and we must prepare and plan for the changes that are already taking place.

The South Has Risen—Again

Between 2000 and 2009, the U.S. population increased by an estimated 24.8 million. Slightly more than half (51.4 percent) of this growth was concentrated in the South. The West was a distant second, capturing roughly one third of the nation’s net growth during this period. Continuing a near quarter-century-long trend, the Northeast and Midwest both experienced slow population growth between 2000 and 2009, capturing only 6.5 percent and 9.4 percent of net population growth, respectively.

The “Browning” of America

Undergirding the rapid geographical redistribution of the U.S. population are dramatic changes in the complexion of U.S. society, driven by immigration and rapid non-white population growth. Elsewhere, we have referred to this shift as the “browning” of America (Johnson, 2006). We believe Census 2010 will confirm that this trend accelerated over the past decade.

Marrying Out is “In

A significant increase in marriage across racial and ethnic lines is further contributing to the browning of America. Recent research by the Pew Hispanic Center revealed that the out-marriage rate (i.e., percent of individuals marrying someone of a different race or ethnicity) has doubled since 1980 (Passel, Wang, and Taylor, 2010). Among newly married couples, the out-marriage rate was 14.6 percent in 2008, up from 6.7 percent in 1980. Among currently married couples, the rate increased from 3.2 percent to 8.0 percent during this period (Figure 1). Considering the fact that anti-miscegenation laws, barring intermarriage between blacks and whites, were in force in many states in the United States until 1967, this is a dramatic demographic development.

The Silver Tsunami is About to Hit

At the same time that the U.S. population is shifting geographically and immigration and intermarriage are changing the population mix, our nation is also aging, especially the native-born population. The “graying” of America, as we have referred to this trend, is driven in part by changes in personal behavior—some people are living healthier and more active lives—and by major health care advances that have improved longevity—the average 65-year-old today will live nearly 20 more years.

The End of Men?

Over the past decade, cyclical and structural changes in the U.S. economy have profoundly affected the employment prospects of American workers, especially males (Cavanaugh, 2010). Men have been more adversely affected than women, in part, because they are concentrated in economic sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, which have been most vulnerable to automation, foreign competition, and cyclical downturns. Women, on the other hand, are concentrated in economic sectors, such as government (including public education) and health services, which actually grew in the face of the recession and are projected to continue to be among the fastest-growing sectors over the coming decade.

Cooling Water from Grandma’s Well—and Grandpa’s Too!

Paralleling the graying of America and the declining economic status of men in the United States is another disruptive demographic trend: the rapid growth of grandparent-headed households raising grandchildren (Stritof and Stritof, 2010; Smith 2010).

Link to Dr. Johnson’s entire report:  http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/ki/documents/UNC_KenanInstitute_2010Census.pdf

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