American Demographics has an article about an impending demographic change that might be of interest in the Society. They claim that in the next couple of decades there is going to be a big shift in population from the North to the South. A Yankee invasion of retirees. The good news is they’ll be bringing their money.
We are entering a new, third great American migration. People from the South who left to work the auto plants are retiring and heading home to the land of their fathers. Joining them are corporate transplants, the urban poor and those who are looking for an uncomplicated life as a reward for years of hard work.
The motivation for migration is a warmer climate and a simpler life. As many as three-quarters of the people pondering retirement have established a good reason to head for America below the 35th Parallel north. And this may mean as many as 50 million émigrés to the South over the next 20 years.
There are roughly 75 million Americans who are over the age of 50, out of a population of approximately 294 million. Another 35 million are between 40 and 50 years of age. And most of these people are thinking about where they will live the “second act” of their life.
Cash in hand, and, if they spent their working life with one of the great industrial companies like General Electric or Ford, pension at the ready, social security intact and lifetime medical services assured, they will bring their other cash assets to the banks and brokerages of the South.
So, on the one hand, the migration of Baby Boomers south will lead to substantial strengthening of the capital base (and, hence, economic activity), it will also bring enormous pressure to bear on health care, social services, government, land planning, and, of course, occupational choices as more and more people find themselves serving the needs of an older, formerly metropolitan population.
Never before in America, or since the 14th century in Europe, has the lion’s share of capital, innovation or economic growth been south of the 40th Parallel. For centuries the globe’s great centers of entrepreneurship have been in climates that are cold, prefer change and growth to tradition and value work over the passionate embrace of the arts. It is not an accident that the family automobile was invented in the North and rock ‘n’ roll in the South. But now the change: The New South will be challenged to absorb the Old North. But, given the warmth of the South, the big question is: Will the capital take a siesta while the émigrés bleed resources dry?
As for me, I’m going to go shopping up north. Real estate values will drop. And, recent projections suggest that in a few decades global warming will make the North much less snowy while, in the South, rain, hurricanes, and tornadoes will increase.