Our current recession, which may end at the end of this quarter, has been severe. The impacts upon housing, unemployment, business formation, and the toll on existing companies and our citizens exceeds any recessions since the “Great Depression.” However, in the middle of these trying times, Joel Kotkin has authored “The Next Hundred Million.” Mr. Kotkin’s book is an irrepressible optimistic view of our country, our culture, our people, and most importantly, a contagiously cheery future predicted for our youth.
As a man with three children and fourteen nieces and nephews, “The Next 100 Million” is a riveting book. If this is to be our destiny, then let us grow quickly from 300 to 400 million Americans.
Embracing a forty-year optimistic scenario near the trough of a severe recession challenges our sense of reality. But consider that forty years after the 1929 crash, America was at near its post WWII zenith. This is our 5th recession in the past forty years. They have all ended.
America is evolving, but along the same cultural identities that have shaped our nation up today. Our fertility rates remain higher than any other western democracy and indicate faith in the future. By 2050, our population will be younger than any of our major economic competitors. China’s aged will represent a 20% greater portion of their population, than will ours. Western Europe, Japan and Russia are predicted to have population declines.
Our expected future nation will continue to be fed by the aspirations of people around the world. Over 165 million express a desire to move here today-an immediate 50% potential growth in our society. I’m certain American media influences the dreams of Chinese, Indians, Mexicans or others whom see us as a future home-but in all businesses, referrals matter, and my hunch is that just as my great grandfather convinced my great great grandmother to follow him from Norway, so it is true for today’s immigrants. The American experience matters.
On the critical issue of the most highly skilled immigrants, American currently attracts 50% of the entire global pool of the highly skilled who do move from their homeland. Between 1990 and 2005, 25% of all venture-backed public companies were founded by immigrants. These immigrants are driving our economy. The yearning of the world’s gifted to be American is not wavering.
Our essential national character of optimism, a beacon for immigrants, faith in free markets, and a DNA wired for entrepreneurial creativity will define the next 50 years as it has the last 400 years. Therefore the future remains bright.