Written by Mark Pisano, Senior Fellow at the Price School of Public Policy, Past Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments, and Co-Chair of America 2050
America 2050 convened a seminar in Healdsburg, California of the thought leaders in long-range planning in the United States in March of 2012 to consider next steps for deploying the America 2050 strategy that was developed in 2008, and deferred by the Great Recession and subsequent fiscal de-leveraging that resulted. Participants at the Healdsburg retreat examined demographic shifts that are occurring, such as the aging population and other factors effecting our future; the changes in strategy for infrastructure deployment, including the decentralization, diversification, and distribution - "3-D" approaches; and financing strategies, such as partnerships, that could be used to mobilize the vision contained in the America 2050 Prospectus.
Following the retreat, several papers have been prepared that outline an approach that could be used by regional partners in moving forward with initiatives to support the wealth creating dynamics of the nation's megaregions. It should be noted that these papers are background for developing an operating strategy in this period of transition.
The first paper, Demography as Economic Destiny, is an examination of how the demographic changes that were noted at Healdsburg will be affecting the economy of the country over the next several decades and how these changes are affecting the incomes, expenditures, and taxes paid by individuals. The advantage of the age dividend that was created over the past several decades and that accelerated growth in the past several decades, which was created by the ever-increasing working-age population, is described. Likewise, the age penalty that is resulting from the retirement of Baby Boomers, as well as the smaller growth rates of working-age population of subsequent generations is also described. Using elasticity curves developed from Consumer Expenditures Surveys (CEX), the paper analyzes the growth and tax implications of these changes. The slowness of the recovery and the duration of the economic and financial implications of what we are experiencing are described. Significant findings, such as slowing GDP growth and reduced growth in taxes paid to all levels of government by individuals, as well as slowing growth in income and expenditures, are described.
The final two papers describe the effect that these demographic changes will have on infrastructure deployment and financing. The first paper, 3-D: Infrastructure for California's Future, focuses on how these demographic and taxing implications will effect what infrastructure will be built and how we will finance infrastructure. The basic conclusion is that we will be moving to capture the benefits of the wealth creating effect of infrastructure through use payments. New partnerships and institutions will be created using the principles described in the second paper, which was published in the National Academy of Public Administration's "Memos to National Leaders: Partnerships as Fiscal Policy". Together these papers provide thoughts that will enable regional partners to begin the process of developing new approaches to grow our megaregions and nation.