Correcting Demographic Misperceptions

By John Burns, CEO

Our survey of almost 1,000 people showed eight significant demographic misperceptions. Read our book Big Shifts Ahead if you want the facts. Those misperceptions (along with charts that clarify) are as follows:

We are younger than we think. Half of respondents believed that the number of Americans born in the 1990s is exceeded by either the generation born in the 1950s (the Baby Boom) or the generation born in the 1970s (the Baby Bust!). Not true! While we are aging faster than we think (see the next question), the number of young adults is very high. Consider how competitive it has become to get into a good college.

We are also aging faster than we think. 52% of respondents thought our population over age 65 will grow 22% or less over the next 10 years. It will actually grow 38%+/-. That will obviously cause more strain on pension programs than people think.

Fertility rates matter far more than we think. 57% of respondents believed that the US population would be a maximum of 27% larger if birth rates had stayed the same as in 1960. The right answer is that the US population would be 79% larger, with 590 million people instead of 330 million! Three of the four big shifts in our 4-5-6 Rule combined to have a far bigger impact on the US population than most people think. The three big shifts are government (legalized abortion), technology (birth control), and societal shifts (intentionally having fewer children).

We are far less entrepreneurial than we think. The percentage of US companies that are startups (less than a year old at the time of the survey) has been steadily plunging to 8% of all companies. 65% chose a higher % of startups, and almost half thought it was 20%—more than the 1970s, when Apple, Microsoft, and so many other great companies were started!

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