This prognosis for the 1980s is adapted from a 10-year forecast prepared for the Fifth Annual Corporate Associates Meeting Jan. 16, 1980, by the Institute for the Future, Menlo Park, Calif. The institute, founded in 1968 by members of the Rand Corporation and the SRI Institute, is a research organization specializing in long-range forecasting and planning. A REPORT FROM THE INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE
The 1980s may best be characterized as a decade of transitions. In the midst of the events that will alter the course of the future, there are four major transformations taking place that may dominate the next 10 years: 1. High Cost Energy
Nothing is likely to have a bigger impact on the U.S. economy than continued increases in energy costs. We expect oil prices to nearly double in real terms by the end of the decade. Higher energy costs will contribute to slower economic growth, 8 percent inflation and a squeeze on middle-class discretionary purchasing power. 2: An Adult Society
The youth culture of the 1960s and the young-adult culture of the 1970s will be displaces by an adult-centered world in the 1980s. The driving force here is the great wave of 80 million born in the post-World War II boom period from 1945 to 1965. We expect this group to continue to focus institutional change in those areas with which it is most involved; thus look for tomorrow's "revolutions" to occur not in the college ('60s) or in new models of marriage ('70s) but in the adult-centered institutions of work and politics. 3: New Values
Very good values researchers suggest that a growing share of the populaton is discarding traditional American values to embrace a set of "new values." Whatever this new values group is called, be it Yankelovich's "forerunners," Arnold Mitchell's "inner-directed consumers," or Toffler's "third wave," they share many preferences:
Diversity over uniformity.
Participation over representation.
Quality over quantity.
Me over we.
These shifts have had a big impact in the 1970s, shaking up both the work ethic and the basic roots of the family. We think that many of them will carry over into the 1980s, with one big "if." If the economy is seriously troubled, there may be a hiatus in the shift to affluence-dependent new values. 4: An Uneasy Society
It wasn't long ago that political uprisings in South Yemen or a new government in Zambia could safely be said to have little or no impact on the United States. In the 1980s, the U.S. sensitivity to events abroad will increase. There will be more and more attacks along the periphery of the U.S. sphere fo influence. One direct result will be a reemphasis on U.S. military spending. The era of quantum jumps in international trade should also end as the industrial countries erect bigger protectionist barriers to guard their interests.
There are, of course, any number of "wild card" events that could change the direction of these major transitions. One such force is the future role of technology, which we believe is the "ace in the hole" for the United States in the 1980s and thereafter. A MODEST EXPANSION
The economic outlook table shows an extended slowdown at the beginning of the decade with real GNP growth averaging less than 1 percent over the three-year perod 1979-81. This will be followed by a broad expansion, led by a substantial increase in real business investment. Some time in mid-decade, bottlenecks in materials and skilled labor -- along with another serious oil shortage -- should produce double-digit inflation and another marked slowdown.
Overall, the 1979-90 period will average a 2.7 percent annual increase in real GNP and a disturbingly high inflation rate -- almost 8 percent. The pattern of economic growth will be very different from that of the 1970s in that investment will play a more important role than labor force growth. INFLATION: 8%
Spurred on by rising energy prices, inflation will be high, averaging 8 percent per year through the 1980s. This implies several bouts with double-digit in mid-decade. It also implies, however, that the inflationary spiral will not worsen during the decade.
One reason the inflationary spiral is not expected to continue to accelerate is the havoc that it will create with family budgets. The inflation rate table suggests some major discrepancies among various budget items likely to affect the consumer. The relatively large increase in certain necessities -- home purchases, medical care, gasoline, and home heating -- will reinforce the continuing popular concern about inflation. Several polls have indicated that two out of three people identify inflation as the most serious economic problem for the United States. That concern has already had a dramatic effect on the government's role in the economy and will continue to influence government fiscal and monetary policy throughout the 1980s. SPENDING ON ENERGY WILL GO UP
The implied price changes, especially those involving energy-related goods, will have major impacts on the consumer. The combination of shifts in real demand and shifts in relative prices will mean a larger share of consumer after-tax dollars will be spend for energy-related goods. As the table on shifts in consumer expenditure shows, spending for food, apparel and automobiles will decrease proportionately while spending on gasoline and oil for transportation and home heating and electricity will rise dramatically, from 7.7 percent of all consumer expenditures in 1978 to 10.8 percent in 1990. This indicates that even with all the conservation steps stimulated by higher energy costs (e.g., more efficient cars, slower growth in usage, more house insulation, etc.), consumers will be spending more to maintain the same levels of personal transportation and home heating and cooking.
This increasing expenditure for necessities has implications for discretionary income (the amount of money individual households have left over after all necessities have been paid for). Recent inflation has hit various categories of necessities especially hard: home heating, gasoline, health care, new houses, etc. This has tended to reduce the rate of growth in discretionary income. Discretionary income as a share of GNP has dropped sharply since the inflationary surge in 1974, especially in 1979 with its high inflation and low growth. This rather dramatic decline[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] LABOR SHORTAGES WILL SPARK SIGNIFICANT PAY HIKES
From 1960 on, and especially during the 1970s, wage increases lagged behind GNP growth. The large numbers of youth and female job entrants during this period accounted for much of this lag. These new workers made labor a bargain compared to other production costs.
When the entry level labor crunch occurs in the 1980s, industries that employ large numbers of sales, service and clerical workers will be hard hit -- they will have to pay higher relative wages for people with lesser skills.
While virtually all occupational categories will experience real wage gains during the labor crunch, some will do better than others. We estimate that in comparison to the average worker, professional and technical workers will gain significantly in wages, and clerical, sales and service workers will make modest gains. Wage rates of blue-collar workers will remain stable, and managerial and administrative wages will fall dramatically.
The toughest hiring crunch will be in the technical and professional worker categories. Industrial demand for such workers is already very high, and the increasing concentration of American economic activity in high technology will intensify demand. Company response? Many are currently offering bounties for skilled employes.
While new entrants will be much scarcer in the 1980s, there will be a relative abundance of older, more experienced workers vying for middle-level positions in business organizations. As the first of the baby-boom age group reaches middle age around 1985, competition for middle-level, non-technical positions will rise dramatically.
For example, in the 1960s approximately 10 workers vied for each middle-management supervisory position. By the end of the 1980s, this ratio will increase to about 20 to 1. Many workers in this middle-age group will be forced to accept jobs with status and pay scales below their expectations. Discontent among these older, experienced workers is likely to increase as they observe wages rising faster for lower-skill positions.
To deal with this middle-management excess, corporations will experiment with more diffuse organizational structures. We expect a big increase in flexitime, job sharing and especially part-time work. There will also be trends toward more autonomous work units, decentralization of authority and special part-time opportunities for older persons. STILL MORE WORKING WOMEN
Most of the increase in the numbers of working women will come from the 25-to-44-year-old age group. We expect the proportion of women in this age group who work to rise from 59.5 percent to 71 percent by 1990. The increase in actual numbers will be even more striking since there will be almost 11 million more women in this age group in 1990 than there are now.
But two factors will hold the rate of increase of women who work below recent levels. First, a brake will be applied by the large number of children to be born in the 1980s. Second, there will be a drop-off in the number of women in their early 20s because of the post-baby boom "birth dearth." This group of women has usually had the highest proportion of workers.
All in all, the rate of increase among female workers will probably taper off in the late 1980s, with women making up 56.5 percent of workers in 1990. COLLEGIATE JOB-HUNTERS
The aging of the babyboom children implies shortages of entrants in the work force. The overall composition of the labor force will change, and the interests and skills of available workers may not match up with available jobs.
By 1985 there will be a decline in the number of people entering the work force who are high-school dropouts (-21 percent) or high school graduates with no further training (-23 percent). But the number of entrants with some college training will be up 6 percent.
Between 1985 and 1990, the number of new entrants who are high school dropouts (-5 percent) or high school graduates only (-4 percent) will fall modestly while the number of entrants with advanced training will be down almost 10 percent.
By 1985 underemployment may be a serious problem, with record numbers of college-educated workers having difficulty finding employment that requires their skills. But entry-level, often unskilled, job opportunities will be increasing. POVERTY WILL STILL PERSIST
While growing affluence may be an important trend in the 1980s, society will continue to have serious problems with relative poverty. There will be more households with incomes under $10,000 (1977 dollars) in 1990 than in 1977, 27.1 million as against 25.7 million. Many of these households will be elderly people; others will be racial and foreign language-speaking minorities and single-parent families. Low-income neighborhoods usually mean poor quality education and poverty can become a generational problem. Fiscal conservatism will exacerbate these problems. MINORITIES
The sharp rise in the percentage of minority labor force entrants will be a development of major proportions in the coming years.
Minorities, including Spanish-speaking aliens, currently account for about 22 percent of new labor force entrants. Because of higher immigration rates, the increasing number of Spanish-speaking undocumented workers entering the labor force and the generally higher birth rates of minorities, they will account for close to 30 percent of new labor force entrants in the late 1980s.
The corporate world of the 1980s is likely to reflect this growing minority influence on internal and external operating environments. Internally, corporations are likely to feel increased pressure not only to meet the letter of Equal Employment Opportunity requirements but also to show a spirit of minority consciousness at all levels. Specially tailored training programs, including language training, might be one result of this new consciousness.
The external corporate working environment in the larger cities is likely to come under pressure as minority groups become more active in urban political affairs. One possible outcome of this activism could be political pressure for more corporate involvement in community social programs, in housing rehabilitation and in local hiring. A continuing spur toward activism will be the consistently disproportionate share of minority low-income households, despite the increasing affluence of the nation as a whole. NO MORE LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Until very recently, most people's life cycles were predictable; the typical person would enter elementary school at age 6, leave school in 10 to 15 years, get a job, marry and work until retirement age. In the future there will be much more flexibility within this cycle. As people begin to undertake new tasks at new times in their lives, new consumer markets will open up, and novel campaigns may be geared to take advantage of these developments.
The difference in lifestyles between John Burns grandson Gary illustrates in a general way future changes in the life cycle. John's life follows the pattern of many of our parents; Gary's may be the future for our children.
In the future, our lives will be much more fragmented than they are today. We'll change living conditions, residences and even careers much more often than in the past. And we'll do certain tasks at times that in the past would have been considered unorthodox. More people may be taking time off in mid-life to travel or take a shot at a new career. And educational institutions will serve people of all ages, who will go to school whenever the need arises.
All of which will affect on corporations. Entry-level employes will no longer necessarily be young; retraining and opportunities for mid-career switches may become high-priority union demands; and corporate education programs will become big business. CONTROL OF ONE'S OWN TIME
One of the biggest coming lifestyle changes will be the ability of the average person to exercise control over the way he or she allocates his or her time. Increasingly, artificial time constraints -- the 9-to-5 working day and 8-to-11 prime-time television -- will be challenged by new attitudes and technologies.
Slowly, we are evolving into a society in which time itself and the ability to manipulate time are at a premium. In the past few years, a whole range of time-saving or time-rescheduling innovations has appeared, including shopping centers, flexitime, instant and frozen foods, fast-food restaurants, microwave cooking and daycare centers.
During the next decade, there will be substantial pressures to free up people's schedules to allow them to juggle their activities.
In some areas, trends are already clear. Cable television, video discs and cartridges/cassettes will profoundly alter the nature of prime-time television viewing by allowing cusumers to schedule their own entertainment. Stores have slowly evolved into outlets that sell at times convenient to the customer, first by remaining open at nights, and then by opening on Sundays. New telecommunications technologies will soon allow us to order goods on a 24-hour basis using a home telephone or computer terminal.
The workplace is evolving in a similar direction. Alternative work syles, involving flexitime, a sharp increase in part-time work and job-sharing, individualized benefit programs and mid-life career changes will become increasingly common.
Our signals tell us that people would very much like to exercise more control over their daily activities. The combination of the preceding technical and social innovations will give a strong push in this direction in the next few years and will heavily affect the way people lead their daily lives.