With the Global population rising to 9 Billion over the next 10 -15 years, some municipalities are still going to shrink, and many will increase beyond it’s ability to provide services. What will City Hall do with it’s collapsing tax basins. A disclaimer, I don’t for a minute claim to understand what it’s like to sit on a City Council. I wouldn’t want the job truth be told, so I’m not saying what they do is easy, anyone can point fingers and complain. We the people have really set City Hall up to fail, but that’s not my point. I am however,  praying City hall is paying attention to a trend in our aging population, and business community.

Third world countries will have the most population growth over western countries, but we will eventually reach 9 Billion in the coming decade or so. The current challenge is not with the growth as much as it is with those wondering off to pasture, the baby boomers. The first of the baby boomers will turn 65 this year, but the real challenge is, the tail end of the baby boomers are turning 50 in 2014, and this generation is the largest portion of our population. That means the average age will be 40, the generations to come are unable to replace the boomers in the workforce, we will have to rely on immigration to fill the that gap. That is another topic for another time.

Imagine, today 50% of the population is over the age of 30, it won’t be long before 50% of the population is over 50. This trend will continue because we no linger birth children at the rate we used to, we could birth them fast enough to catchup and solve the problem of an aging world. The numbers alone don’t really show you the problem, it’s not the numbers as much as it is how the generations yet to come think. They won’t value what we value today. If you were to poll the under 20 generation today, they will tell you that ownership is not that important to them. The idea of owning a home, or a car for that matter, is not on the radar screen for most of them. They don’t value ownership the same way people do over the age of 40. What does that mean, less money filling the tax bucket in many municipalities. Is City Hall even looking at that problem?

The under 20 generation and the one’s to follow, will most likely buy into the co-op housing, or shoebox appartments long before owning a house on land. Why, They value lifestyle over workstyle. They are not willing to give up what many of us did to have the lifestyle we have, we traded our time for dollars, we worked to live. The younger generations don’t value work the same way, most people over the age of 40 have their identity wrapped up in what they do for work. Their work validates them, it is who they are, not what they do. Gen C and beyond do not have that conditioning to deal with, creating a different thought process on ownership of home and country.

City Hall also has to deal with another shift, 60% of all commerce is going online, that to may help shrink the tax basin. How? A local bricks & mortar business decides to sell it’s products and services online exclusively. Let’s say they have success. Before you know it, they have shutdown that bricks & mortar location, they discover they don’t even need an office, they’ve put everything out on the cloud, and then run their business by smartphone. How will that impact real estate, (read my thoughts on agents becoming obsolete here) let alone the tax revenues cities rely on. As you can see these shifts in thinking by the generations to come will rewite the rule book in every municipality. Is City Hall paying attention?

While all this is happening, we will have other issues to deal with, water shortages, possible food shortages and so on. We will enter into a society not unlike the one in the movie “The Book Of ELI”, in that movie, we kill (people) for things we throw away today. One man’s garbage is another mans treasure.

I don’t know how our City Hall’s will be able to change the way they think, but I hope they do, our communities depend on it. Protectionism and control are the current model of running a city, I fear that will be the undoing, because my kids kids won’t tolerate it.

This problem of an aging population belongs to all of us, we will have to work hard to maintain the economies and lifestyles we enjoy today here in the western front. What other challenges do you see?

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  


  1. JamesStrocel on January 11, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    How can we simultaneously go through a demographic crash and suffer from the effects of overpopulation on our resources? We can’t be running out of people *and* room at the same time. I doubt that current population models take into account the effects of a rising standard of living on population growth.

    • Owen Greaves on January 11, 2011 at 3:36 PM

      Hi James, the data is conflicting only if you look at the problem from where you happen to live. The countries with over population already exist, they aren’t North or South America where the population is actually expected to dip do to the baby boomer exodus. We aren’t going to run out of room as per say in the America’s, but the under 20 genreations those after will not valur ownership of a home on land and will opt for other alternatives, therefore creating an unstable, and shrinking tax base.

      I’m not convinced, although I have yet to research it, can we sustain a higher or rising standard of living, and will it actually happen, I ask the question only due to deminishing resources. There is going to be a water shortage in the future, without water, a rising standard of living wouldn’t have a long life span. Not everything will be based by monetary value, especially a rising standard of living.

      None the less, this is a very interesting area of study and I thank you for you participation.

  2. donners5 on January 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    I read a report a few months back which discussed birthrates. It stated that when the birthrate of a nation becomes less than X, their population will decline and it is impossible for it to make up for the shortfall without immigration. Currently Europes Birth rate is lower than X and Canada’s is close to X. As to the obsolesence of your friendly neighbourhood REALTOR, I would like to respectfully disagree. The role of the REALTOR is changing and the smart REALTOR will grasp that change and create a new business model. The REALTOR who is content to be made into a commodity will become little more than a facilitator to any transaction they can find.

    • Owen Greaves on January 11, 2011 at 3:50 PM

      Hi Donners5,

      we used to have 3.1 children birthed per household, it is now down to 1.3, so you are accurate in that we can’t fill the shortfall in the most countries around the world. The over population proble already exists, primarily in India & China, not North & South America.

      In reference to Real Estate Agents, they don’t have a choice but to change. As mentioned, the under 20 (Gen C) and those to follow do not value ownership of a home the way you and I do, therefore, the way we think about ownership has to be redefined. I would also suggest, that the name Real Estate Agent be abolished and reworked for a better more accurate definistion of how they serve and help consumers. The service is not LAND, the service is obtaining the title on that land, and all the trimmings around that aquisition.

      I’m asking anyone to agree with me, I’m hoping what I write here makes you think, to think more out of the box, not on what’s in front of us now, but what will be before us in the next 5, 10, 15 years.

      This is an awesome topic, but the numbers are real, and we have to be more forward thinking in my humble opinion. Thanks for being here and you valued comments.