How Will the World, America Look in 2050?

Suburbs will be like big cities

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By R. Leigh Coleman, Christian Post Reporter
July 7, 2011|7:32 pm

The America in 2050 will look very different than the America we know today, according to a recent report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau.

We would all like to know what the future holds and the new report issue by the Census Bureau gives us a glimpse into what our Earth may look like 40 years from now.

The report shows a slow immigration and differing birth rates among races in 2050, which means there will be a drastic change in the country's ethnic composition.

A profound discovery in the study shows that the non-Hispanic white population will continue to increase as this population is estimated to live about 10 years longer than expected today.

The study also revealed that despite the economic woes and forecasted debt crisis, the U.S. is the only country in the top 10 whose super power ranking is not expected to change in the next 40 years.

The Census report also highlights dramatic demographic shifts within the country's borders.

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The landscape of America is also expected to change during the next half a century.

Suburbs used to be the primary place for Americans to live, but recent housing market issues, high gas prices, and concerns about the economy and environment are changing the entire concept of the suburb.

Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, says suburbs as they are will be a thing of the past and will become more like cities.

"The suburbs of the future will in many ways be more diverse than the cities," Kotkin said.

He said the suburbs of the 1950s were predominantly white, but suburbs today have an increasing number of ethnic minorities and recent immigrants.

“Historically, people living in bedroom communities outside of a city have commuted downtown to work,” he said.

“Suburbs are also becoming more appealing because they are developing their own cultural amenities. Many have rebuilt town centers, stores, libraries and revived Main Streets.”

The "luxury city" of the future also creates problems for residents' upward mobility, according to Kotkin's research.

He said the chief concern is that even as more ethnic minorities join the middle class, the ability for people in the middle class “to enjoy the same lifestyle as the upper class in their cloistered cities will be limited.”

He said class, not race, is going to be the great American issue.

Race relations will change dynamics in the future and life expectancy will also change – it will improve. The study shows the average life expectancy for American men was 75.6 years and 80.8 for women just a few years ago; about ten years can be added to one's life today, researchers said.

“We live longer and healthier lives,” said Neil Brigge, professor of philosophy at New York University and a director of the Foresight Institute.

“We are much richer. We have the ability to choose our sensory experiences to a much greater extent than ever before.”

However, Robert Field, PhD, of Drexel University in Philadelphia, says the future is not so bright. He said there will be a lag in life expectancy in the US and is likely attributable to "decades of increases in chronic diseases."

He said improvements in life expectancy may stall if rates of obesity, and other lifestyle and environmental factors, continue to worsen.

"The diseases that these factors cause can take decades to develop, so we won't see improvements in life expectancy for a while," Field said.

"However, the sooner we start, the sooner we will see the payoffs."

Much of the problem with life expectancy in the U.S. can be chalked up to risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol, diet, and alcohol, according to researchers.

Other changes in the world forecasted for 2050 show that India will be the most populous nation, surpassing China sometime around 2025.

“The U.S. will remain exactly where it is now: in third place, with a population of 423 million, which is up from 308 million in 2010,” the report said.

The U.S. Census report also shows that birth rates in two of the world's most economically and politically influential countries, Japan and Russia, will cause them to fall from their current positions as the 9th and 10th most populous nations, respectively, to 16th and 17th.

"One of the biggest changes we've seen has been the decline in fertility in some developed countries such as China," said Loraine West, a leader in data research at the U.S. Census Bureau.

China, who has been in the midst of a population boom, will slow down substantially, the report said. Spain and Italy are "on an uptick," said West.

The two countries on track to make the biggest population explosion in 2050 are Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Nigeria currently has 166 million people on record, but by 2050 its population is expected jump to 402 million.

Ethiopia's population will likely triple from 91 million to 278 million in 2050.

This will bring the east African nation into the one of the top 10 most populous countries in the world for the first time, researchers said.

The most dismal forecast in the Census report shows Russia as a cold, vast country that has been undergoing steady population decrease since 1992.

The Bureau expects Russia to decline further, from 139 million people to 109 million by 2050.

“That's a 21 percent drop. Even more than the country suffered during World War II,” the report said.

Russia is experiencing declining birth rates, but it's also suffering from a relatively low life expectancy.

As Africa and India boom in population numbers, Russia will decline and China will slow down holding at some 1.3 billion.

The world in 2050 shows an estimated 9.4 billion people who will call Earth home.

The findings of the report were calculated using population estimates of 228 countries, which were compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau's International Data Base (IDB).

 

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