The future will bring about a social change in America that is very difficult to understand when you examine the trends in todays social policies of the United States.
You can expect that by 2030 for the first time in American history there will be a shortage of skilled labor. You will not see the type of problems that have been isolated in the past but an overall shortage of a younger population to fill existing and new job positions.
Many Jobs today require a more educated workforce which in turn requires young adults to stay in school longer and longer as they specialize in various fields. Ergo, the average age of entry into the workforce is getting older. In addition to this the declining world population and the completion of the baby boomers era all add up to less and less workers in the workforce as well as a disproportionate amount of people that are retired.
Those retired will consist of the haves and the have nots. The haves will have participated in retirement funds and possibly have equity reserves like houses or land. They still wont be so lucky and will be required to sell these assets. When social security set the retirement age at 65 in 1935, the average life expectancy was 61 overall. People were not expected to support themselves whether through public or private funds for decades as todays reality dictates. The have nots will be forced to live off Social Security which will leave them in abject poverty at best.
Retirees vote disproportionately to other demographics and will exert intense pressure to maintain reasonable health care and standards of living. This pressure will force governments to heavily borrow or increase taxes dramatically. Borrowing heavily will add to an already shrinking capital market as the baby boomers spend reserves for their retirement that they have saved for decades. The result will be a replay of high interest rates from the past.
A dramatic increase in taxes will counter an already cyclical increase in wages in order to fill labor shortages. A decrease in taxes will spawn an increase in investment which will find us back with the problem of not enough workers and a requirement to raise wages in order to entice sector employment levels to the required need.
In order to solve the labor shortage there are only two options. The first is to make each employee more productive. Education and robotics will just ensure a higher level of ability meaning more training and education again increasing the entry age of employment for many reducing available workers. The second option would be to increase the number of workers through immigration.
Current immigration policy like social security is outdated and no longer applies to reality. In the past, xenophobia of foreigners taking local jobs and the dread of unemployment fueled historical immigration policy. The reality will be that there are not enough workers to employ. All western nations will experience this same dilemma at a time when countries that have traditionally been the source of immigration are capable of stabilizing their own populations reducing any sense of urgency for emigration.
The future focus of immigration will be how to entice immigrants to the country in the first place as well as competing with other countries for immigrants. Immigration policy will be based on incentives to come to America. The major focus of immigration will be on immigrants who either work in industries that will increase productivity and workers that work in domestic and health-care industries to support an aging population.
This period of immigration will be the second largest in American history only surpassed by the 40 year period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. The competition will be immense among western nations with the US succeeding in drawing the most immigration due to various advantages. Not only will the US be successful in attracting educated workers from developed nations but also from developing nations. Old terms such as brain drain, etc. will truly be the reality of this new era of immigration.
Based on ideas found in the works of:
Friedman, G. (2009). The next 100 years : a forecast for the 21st century. New York: Doubleday.