I’m going to try something a little different here at The Glittering Eye today. I’m going to publish several posts with a unifying theme. In this instance the theme will be demographics.
Since the start of the current recession (or previous recession if you’re in the financial industry), we’ve read an almost constant stream of analyses, critiques, prognostications, and laments on the state of the economy. The preponderance of these took a sort of econophysics point of view, a view from 30,000 feet in which forces applied had deterministic outcomes. Local, regional, cultural, or demographic differences tend to be ignored.
I don’t think this view of behavioral or social phenomena is realistic and over the last few years I’ve repeatedly emphasized the local variants in the economic downturn and how that tends to obscure what’s actually going on nationally. Today I’m going to try to come up with an explanation of the changes in the economy that focuses on our changing demographics, particularly the differences among age cohorts. We’ll see how far I get.
A good place to start is with the graphic above. That’s what’s called the age pyramid for 2010. There are bars for each five year age cohort. The number of men for each cohort is shown on the left and the number of women on the right. It’s a straightforward visual snapshot that captures the country’s age and gender demographics in an eye-catching manner.
There are a couple of things I’d like to point out. First, half or more of the people in the country are age 40 or over. Second, fully a third of the people in the country are Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964 (ages 46 through 64).