Boom Bust & Echo 2000

Spring 1999 CSANews Issue 31  |  Posted date : Mar 01, 2007.Back to list

"Demography is the study of human population." Boom Bust & Echo was the publishing phenomenon that made the understanding of demographics accessible to the average reader.

Now, three years later, in Boom Bust & Echo 2000, authors David Foot and Daniel Stoffman present a fully updated and expanded version, with even more colourful case studies (i.e. the Viagra story).

The catchy terms Boom Bust & Echo describe the three postwar population waves know as "cohorts." The basic definitions haven't changed from the original book, but statistics are updated to 1998.

They are as follows:
BOOM: Those born between 1947 and 1966. The only special thing about the Baby Boomers is that there are so many of them - 9.9 million. Generation X, (now in their mid-30s) is really the back end of the Boom generation. As a group, they've had a real economic struggle.

BUST: Those born between 1967 and 1979. Declining fertility rates and the introduction of the birth control pill led to this smaller population group, (5.6 million). There are definite economic advantages to being born a cohort of a smaller wave. "The 20-year-old with minimal experience will have better prospects than the 30-year-old with minimal experience."

ECHO: Those born between 1980 and 1995: The children of the Boomers (6.5 million in 1998). Echoes won't have such smooth sailing as the Busters, but their opportunities will be better than those of Generation X.

Foot provides some whimsical observations which make the book entertaining as well as edifying. As a sop to the vanity of bulging Boomers, manufacturers are redefining clothing sizes. Size eight women can now wear a size six or four. Size 32 labels are being sewn into men's trousers that fit spongy 34-inch waists.

Although demographics explain two- thirds of everything, David advises getting expert investment advice. "Don't invest in a bad company in a good niche." As for the stock market, "We are not too late to party. There is greater risk in being out than in."

Foot's forecast on real estate: "A house is back to being a place to live, rather than a retirement nest egg." On computers? Development of speech recognition will make your computer as easy to use as your refrigerator.

Regarding Health Care: "Boomers' bodies are wearing out just as governments are putting a lid on health care." Foot warns that Canadians won't tolerate a system that gives faster surgical attention to cats and dogs than to humans.

Our Boomers will turn 65 between 2012 and 2030, creating a "grey interval." Canada, however, will enjoy one of the most favourable ratios of workers to retired people in the world. If we use the demographic information of Boom Bust & Echo 2000 to prepare for the changes ahead, we can enter the millennium as an older but wiser, and perhaps more caring society.

Willa McLean is a freelance writer and radio and television producer.