Books of predictions are best read after the predictions have, or have not, come true.
George Friedman, the chief executive officer of Statfor, Austin, Texas, a geopolitcal analysis firm, has written “The Next 100 Years,” a prediction book that won’t be at its ripest until 2099.
But the book might appeal to some readers with an interest in long-term care (LTC) and long-term care insurance (LTCI), because Friedman suggests that one of the major conflicts of the coming century might hinge on the United States’ growing need for LTC services.
Friedman talks about what he expects to be the growing, inefficiency-driven weakness of China and Japan, Russia’s efforts to expand buffer zones, turmoil in the Middle East — and long-term care for old old U.S. baby boomers.
Friedman expects the United States to replace the fences that now keep Mexican immigrants out with signs inviting Mexicans to come on in and tend to our elderly.
Americans with Mexican ancestry already make up a large percentage of the population in areas such as Arizona and Texas that the United States wrested from Mexico in 1848, through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. As more Mexicans from Mexico enter the United States, and as Mexico becomes stronger and more prosperous, Mexico could start to challenge U.S. dominance over North America, Friedman says.
At some point, Friedman says, Mexico City could replace Washington as the de facto capital of the continent.
I think Friedman is using faulty demographics. The baby boom generation is a huge generation, but Generation Y and Generation Z are also big generations, and the oldest members of Generation Z are already 12 years old. The United States might find it has all the labor it needs without changing its immigration laws, even after all of the boomers are retired and half are getting long-term care.
And there’s no telling what the scientists will come up with. Maybe they’ll have Alzheimer’s on the run by the end of this decade. Maybe the real demographic crisis of the mid-21st century will be finding jobs for all of the 85-year-olds who are willing and able to work.
But I think Friedman’s book shows why LTC and long-term care insurance are such important topics to think about. The kinds of huge, slow-simmering trends that life and health insurers protect insureds against might never amount to much. In most cases, if the actuaries are right, they won’t amount to much. But, in some cases, they might amount to an awful lot of much.