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Turning back the clock

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Alex Carrick

Positions:
Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for Reed Construction Data. He specializes in economic forecasting and statistical services.

Economists

There is a societal change underway that analysts, politicians and indeed all of us should be aware of. Everyone knows that the post-war WWII baby boom generation (born 1946 to 1966 in Canada) is growing older. But what does this means in terms of outlook and political leanings?

There is a societal change underway that analysts, politicians and indeed all of us should be aware of. Everyone knows that the post-war WWII baby boom generation (born 1946 to 1966 in Canada) is growing older. But what does this means in terms of outlook and political leanings? Broadly speaking, as individuals age they become more conservative. After all, in the 1960s, the hippie generation, with its free love and drug experimentation, was a youth movement. Most parents disapproved. Protest movements led to clashes with government and the establishment. Much crime is committed by young people who may not have a full grasp of the consequences of their actions. With experience, comes a natural desire for a quieter more hassle-free life. I was born in 1947 and am therefore in the vanguard of baby boomers. In 2011, the first baby boomers will reach what has traditionally been the retirement age of 65. Modifications to work rules and labour laws have altered what each individual can chose as their own retirement path. In some parts of the world, France for example, the citizenry is protesting against such a shift, largely out of fear that it will upset an established social safety net. Personally, I like the option of being able to work longer. But I don’t pretend in any way, shape or form, to speak on behalf of my whole generation. What I can do, however, is relate my own experiences with the aging process, both personally and from what I have witnessed over the years. My family has already gone through the tough adjustment that comes with seeing aging parents deal with poorer health and time wind down. What I have noticed, and sometimes find myself grappling with, is a tendency, beyond a certain age, to embrace nostalgia. It becomes easier to believe that the old days were best. One becomes convinced life today is too fast paced, too complex and too confusing. While it is often a pleasant experience to reminisce, whether in daydreams or in the company of contemporaries, much of the awkward or outright bad from the past is omitted in the recall. There should be no overlooking the enormous degrees of progress that have been made in human rights, women’s issues, racial injustice and concern for the environment over the past 50 years. Canadians are sometimes acutely but often peripherally aware of these milestones in the context of living in an advanced economy. The same issues are playing out in emerging nations, along with the growing pains that come with adopting more democratic principles in many instances. Just as significant are the explosive increases in the number of poor who are moving into the middle class on almost all continents. The quality of life around the world is swinging upward. There is a natural tendency for my generation to remember when Detroit was the car-making capital of the world; when everyone gathered around the TV or the radio to catch the World Series and Stanley Cup; when the opinions, religious beliefs and politics of our neighbours, friends, acquaintances and co-workers were a good deal more homogenous than they are now. It’s fine to engage in a little nostalgia from time to time. But when that veers off into a desire to turn back the clock, that’s when hopping on the bus can be a journey to a town called Folly. Alex Carrick

Find Canadian construction-related economic articles in Canadian Construction Market News and in the Economic Outlook section of Daily Commercial News. Mr. Carrick also has a lifestyle blog that can be reached by clicking here.

by Alex Carrick

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