Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The economic future of my daughter: pt i

With the birth of my daughter, as well as with all the crazy news in the market as of late (oil prices, subprime blah blah, inflation and so on) I’ve been thinking about what sort of economy my daughter will grow up with. I’m 36, which is pretty much the same age my dad was when he had me. So here are some thoughts on what economic forces will be bearing down on my daughter when she is 36.

Her diet will be different: Meat and animal products will continue to get more expensive as feed prices continue to rise. The price of feed/meat won’t be a direct straight-line to the upper right, but the inexorable trend will be in that direction. The result is that meat and animal products will continue to become more of a luxury. There may be meat substitutions, which will be entirely synthetic meat that is manufactured in a lab somewhere.

Transportation will be reduced: People simply won’t travel as much. Oil prices will rise at a rate faster than our ability to replace oil as the basis for our fuel. This will result in changes in our behavior and the increased use of substitution technologies.

Increased urbanization: One behavioral change will be an increased migration back to the city. The economic of travel will force us to live closer to work and amenities. She won’t be driving to the store as much as she’ll be walking to it, perhaps on her way back from work. That downside is she may not travel as much for pleasure, but there may be some solutions for that.

Substitutions technologies: Things like holograms and advanced video conferencing will step out of the pages of scifi novels and become a practical reality for my daughter. She’ll be telecommuting to work probably more often than actually commuting. Such technologies will also begin to shape her social life as well as she may have some friends who she may never actually meet in person, and she may visit some locations without ever leaving her livingroom.

I’ve got a lot more on this subject… more to come.

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