According to economist Linda Nazareth, the U.S. population will shift in the next decade from a time-crunch economy of workaholics to a leisure economy of baby boomer retirees and Generation Xers and Yers who have flexible work schedules and more free time. Linda talks with Jean about this phenomenon and her book The Leisure Economy: How Changing Demographics, Economics, and Generational Attitudes Will Reshape Our Lives and Our Industries.
As the number of baby boomers who hit retirement age increases, Linda says golf courses, nature trails and small towns will become major destination spots. At the same time, she says younger generations—who seem to want to follow a different path than their parents and grandparents—may be staying at home with children, traveling the world and working less. "We are already seeing it happen," Linda says. "We have boomers who want to find something else to do besides punch the time clock, and they are trying to figure out whether they have enough money to do that. More importantly, I think we have Gen-X and especially Gen-Yers who are already saying, 'I don't want to live like the boomers—I want [more free] time.'"
A result of this new economy will be more baby boomers selling their expensive homes near large cities and moving to areas of the country where the cost of living is lower, Linda says. Also, younger people who want a more leisurely lifestyle will be looking for ways to spend less so they can work less. "I think it could be afforded much more broadly if people started early and said, 'This is what I want…how can I make it happen?'" she says.
While all of the positive and negative effects of a leisure economy are not yet known, Linda says it certainly will have an impact on American industries and lifestyles for years to come.