First it was agriculture, then manufacturing and most recently service. What will be the backbone for our economy in the not-too-distant future? According to the Wall Street Journal, health care. Hospitals are replacing factories; outpatient services are replacing retail strip malls. We all know that health care demand will be driven by boomers, and with Monday’s report about the lack of preparation for the oncoming retirement wave (see Trend of the Week), health care REITs aren’t a bad idea.

“Boomers are big users of hospitals, and I don’t mean when they get sick,” says Debra Cafaro, president of Ventas Inc., a Chicago-based healthcare REIT. “They use them more for wellness programs, testing and ongoing monitoring of their health. For this reason, we actually see medical office space demand being driven by boomers, rather than the over age 85 crowd. And this demand is exceeding supply. We expect this trend to continue as boomers age.”

For my complete interview with Debra Cafaro visit “Two wrongs make a right in health care REITs.” For more on the emerging health care economy visit www.wsj.com.