HowMuch.net has put together some interesting data for us to ponder. A number of shifts have occurred in spending across certain defined expense categories. Take a look for yourself how of American’s spending habits have changed in the last 75 years.
You need to look such data visualizations as a mini time machine. Bouncing back through generations and historic periods we go. Looking at all these spending trends helps us get a grip and puts things in perspective. I would say that actually the older you are the more relevant the data is. These trend charts could certainly jog your memory as to what things were like in the past in terms of dollars and sense.
After we get pas the point of looking back in time and we find ourselves grounded in the present, we turn our thoughts to the future. Where do these charts go in another 10 years, 20 years or 30 years? Forecasting the future is a guessing game, yet some guesses are more sound that others. Just like you probably won’t freeze in the summer. Given a set of conditions, certain activities are more likely.
Here are a few conditions that we face in the western world that are likely to cause one activity to rise in the next decade and another to level off or fall.
The first condition has to do with a rapidly growing elderly population. The tail end of the baby boomers are in their mid 50’s and the oldest are cresting the 70’s. In the next 10 years the medical needs of this group will balloon and this will continue for decades. Also, progress in healthcare will bring about new procedures and medicines that previously did not exist. Thus, giving rise to demands for services that could only be conjured in one’s mind in the past. Health care is trending up and will increase in the decades to come.
The cost of housing has been on a roll since the 40’s, but if you look at the chart you will notice the change in cost has actually throttled back some. The housing bubble of the last decade certainly gave way to lower costs, but what does the future hold? One trend is known across western countries, whether it is the U.S. or Europe. The trend is more people dying and fewer people being born. This is a shift from the 40’s or the 60’s. This trend is more gradual and takes a longer time to materialize, yet it is extremely strong. You cannot generate a grown adult in minutes, it takes decades.
Without a jump in young to mid-age adults, where will demand for housing come from? Certainly a level of demand will exist, but what about the growth we have seen compounding since the 40’s? Well, it will need to find a different mechanism than more and more adults showing up and needing some place to live. My guess would be that housing’s cost trend begins to level off and by one or two decades out starts to drop.