According to figures released today by the Census Bureau, by the year 2050 the US population will reach 439 million. And, more importantly, by that time it is estimated that Hispanics, who currently make up about 15% of the population, will then account for 30%. For their part, Asian Americans will grow from the current level of about 5% to 9%. Lastly, the population aged 85 and older is projected to more than triple to 19 million.
Those shifts will bring enormous changes in culture, and with them enormous changes in media habits. Beyond the obvious shift – i.e. almost 40% of your viewers speaking English as only one of several languages, and possibly not their first – the way media is consumed will be entirely changed. New cultural influences will be in play that few can even guess at today.
Speaking as a non-American, this evolution will also have a huge economic impact on countries such as Canada. What happens when US business more comfortably looks South instead of North? Will NAFTA expand into South America, and if so, how will that affect Canada as cheaper labor influences the market? What will happen to production sectors in the UK, as nearly half the US population is looking for Spanish-language programming?
I’m nowhere near smart enough to answer those questions, but they are the ones we (and our children) will be struggling with. Those who adapt now will shape the media and economic landscapes of the future. Those who don’t…