Trends and Forecasts


  • World's population will grow to 9.3 billion by 2050; from 6.4 billion in 2005.
  • U.S. population 2005—295 million. In 2050—414 million. Growth of 3.2 million each year.
  • 2003-2004—decrease in elementary school-age children (5-13 years). Increase in high school students (14-17 years). Only six states had an increase in elementary school-age— AZ, NV, FL, NC, CO, GA. Two thirds of states had an increase in high school population.
  • Age 65 years and older—highest number in CA, FL, NY, TX, PA, OH, IL.
  • Highest proportion of its population age 65 and older—FL, WV, PA, ND, IA.
  • Hispanic population will continue to grow. Has grown 13% since 2000. By 2010 will account for 15% of U.S. population. By 2050—24%.
  • Majority-Minority population 2003: HI, 77 %; DC, 72 %; NM, 56 %; CA, 55 %; TX, 49.5 %.
  • Ten fastest-growing states: NV, AZ, FL, ID, GA, TX, UT, DE, NC, NM.
  • Population of the developed world living longer. Each generation lives 3 years longer. Reasons—development of new pharmaceuticals and medical technologies that make it possible to prevent or cure diseases and government health programs that make treatments available to more people. Medical advances that slow the fundamental process of aging are within reach.

Health Care

  • Elderly population growing dramatically. 6% of the population in 2002. By 2050, 17%. Next 2-3 decades, shortages of health care workers in aging vulnerable countries. The U.S. will need at least twice as many health care workers specializing in geriatrics.
  • Emphasis on preventive medicine will grow. Within 2 years, 90% of insurers will offer reduced premiums or expanded coverage for policy holders with healthy life styles.
  • Genetic research will accelerate advances in medicine and in the growth of medical knowledge. The Human Genome Project and genetic intervention eventually may prevent more than 4,000 hereditary disorders.
  • Brain cell and nerve-tissue transplants will be available to aid individuals with cognitive disorders, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological disorders.
  • Within 20 years, nanotechnology-based medical therapies should reach clinical use (e.g., nano-engineered cochlear implant).
  • Surgeons working via the Internet will routinely operate on patients in remote areas using robot manipulators.
  • Pay for performance: Incentives to reward health care workers and hospitals for quality care and improved outcomes. Modeled after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' voluntary quality-indictor reporting system; similar "pay for performance" incentives will help improve the quality of patient care.
  • Consolidation of insurers: Insurers will continue to consolidate creating additional leverage for insurers in contract negotiations. Health insurance will become definedcontribution not defined benefit.
  • Cost containment. As health care costs continue to rise, policymakers will consider limits on reimbursement rates as well as technologies to reduce costs in the long term. Program administrators will be asked to do "more with less."
  • Health care professional shortage. As demand outpaces supply, the industry will increase compensation and develop proactive recruitment programs to help promote health care careers at higher education institutions.
  • Hear come the baby boomers! The aging "baby boom" generation presents a major public policy concern for long-term care due to its size and anticipated use of resources, as well as boomer's "high maintenance" reputation compared to their predecessors.
  • The uninsured. The large uninsured and underinsured population will continue to present the system with a grave dilemma. Due to economic pressures, the many working poor and young workers in their 20's will choose to be uninsured.


  • In the U.S., the ‘digital divide' seems to be disappearing. In 2001, 32% of Hispanic and 31% of African American households were online. By 2004, 67% of Hispanic and 61% of African American children had Internet access at home.
  • Technologies will facilitate cultural and professional exchanges around the world.
  • New technologies are surpassing the previous state of the art and technological obsolescence is accelerating. New technologies will require a higher level of education and training to use them effectively.
  • Use of Artificial Intelligence will increase with applications that include robotics, voice recognition, speech synthesis, health and human services, and electronic data processing.
  • In the U.S., more than 185 million people have Internet connections. Internet-based commerce is growing rapidly.

Cultural Diversity

  • There is growing acceptance of cultural diversity. This is due to the unifying effect of mass media, which is promoting the growth of an integrated global society.
  • In the U.S., individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds are beginning to exert more influence on national agendas.


  • Developed societies increasingly will take their direction from the Gen X and millennial (Gen Y) generations rather than the baby boomers who have dominated its thinking for most of four decades.
  • Once national security issues lose their immediacy, family issues such as long-term health care, day care, and early childhood education will again dominate American society.
  • Growing numbers of people now become entrepreneurs. Gen X'rs and the millennial are the most entrepreneurial generations in history.
  • The new generation of workers cannot simply be hired and ignored. They must be nurtured and made to feel appreciated. Training is crucial. Without the opportunity to learn new skills, young people will quickly find a job that will help them prepare for the rest of their career.
  • Generation X and the millennials will have major effects on the future. Millennials are remaining in school longer and taking longer to enter the work force.
  • Employers will have to adjust virtually all of their policies and practices to the values of these new and different generations.
  • As both customers and employees, they will demand even more advanced telecommunications and Internet-based transactions.


  • 75% of U.S. women ages 25-34 participated in the workforce in 2000 compared to 50% in 1975.
  • Younger generations of women are more educated. In 2000, 30% of women ages 25-34 had completed four or more years of college compared to 18% in 1975. 57% of American college students are women. Among minorities, 60% of Hispanic and 66% of African American college students are women.
  • Women's salaries have reached parity with men's in only five fields—hazardous material removal workers, telecommunication line installers and repairers, construction trade helpers, cafeteria workers, and convention and meeting planners.
  • Women's average income could exceed men's within a generation. College graduates earn more than high school graduates. 64% of young American women enroll in college compared with only 60% of young men.


  • In the U.S., federal funding for basic research will continue to decline as Washington focuses on military research. Washington's neglect of basic science research is being felt in the declining number of patents, Nobel prizes, and awards to American scientists.

Life Long Learning

  • All of the technical knowledge we work with today will represent only 1% of the knowledge that will be available in 2050.
  • Specialization is spreading throughout industry and the professions. For doctors and other professionals, the size of the body of knowledge required to excel in any one area precludes excellence across all areas.


  • More than 130,000 additional K-12 teachers will be needed in the U.S. by 2010.
  • Schools will train children and adults around the clock. The academic day will stretch to seven hours and adults will use much of their free time to prepare for their next career.
  • In the U.S., education is rapidly moving to the Internet as schools supplement their curricula with material from larger institutions and universities increasingly market their distance learning programs.
  • Role of public education has lead to encouragement of competition through charter schools, vouchers, and pay for performance alternatives. Continued legal and moral challenges to the inequity of resource allocations to and funding plans for the "have" and "have not" school districts.
  • The expectation that students with disabilities will successfully learn the knowledge and skills in the general curriculum will require that special education and related service personnel are able to collaborate with other educators.
  • Professionals increasingly will be required to show that they are using sound evidence to provide programs and services. Questions will need to be answered on "What constitutes sound evidence-based practice?" "How should bodies of evidence be reviewed?" What are effective ways to disseminate evidence-based practice information?"
  • In an effort to prevent learning failures, there will be increased emphasis on early intervention. There will be an increased need for evidence-based practices for identifying children at risk for learning failures and for ensuring early positive learning results.
  • Working conditions and salaries continue to cause shortages of qualified personnel. The litigious environment, overwhelming procedural paperwork, high caseloads, lack of career ladders, and limited mentoring do not facilitate entering and remaining in special education.
  • "No Child Left Behind (NCLB) systems for evaluating public schools place great scoreboosting pressures on teachers, usually followed by unsound classroom instruction. Many students will receive a far worse education than they would otherwise be receiving and NCLB will implode in several years." (UCLA assessment expert W. James Popham).
  • College and university classes will be a combination of online and in-class instruction.
  • Lectures will no longer be the predominant mode of instruction; group and individual project-based learning will be the norm.
  • The focus will be to produce graduates who can use a variety of information technology tools and techniques to access, evaluate, analyze, and communicate information and who can work effectively in teams with people from different racial and ethnic groups to address a wide range of real-world issues and choices.


  • In the U.S., people are retiring earlier but often return to work and delay complete retirement for several years. People work at one career, "retire" for awhile, return to school, and then begin work in another career. Permanent end of work is delayed.
  • By 2010, we can expect that the retirement age in the U.S. will be well into the 70's.
  • Older workers will partially make up for shortages of entry-level employees.
  • In the U.S., 23% of workers surveyed in 2004 reported being dissatisfied with their careers and were considering a change in occupation. Of these, 61% expressed a desire to do something more fulfilling, such as entering a "helping profession."
  • Job security and high pay are not the motivators they once were because workers seek job fulfillment. 48% of workers said they work because it "gives a feeling of real accomplishment."
  • In the U.S., workers spend 10% more time on the job than they did a decade ago. Stress related problems affecting employee morale continue to grow. Companies will need to help employees balance their time and work with their family lives and the need for leisure.


  • Institutions are growing more transparent and accountable.
  • Individuals no longer join an association out of a sense of duty. Younger professionals want to know what the association can do for them.

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