Pictures of the Future

Childhood, the Workplace, Our Communities

by Peter A. Morrison

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This paper provides a demographic perspective on the future, focusing on three areas--the state of childhood, circumstances in the workplace, and the local settings of intervention. Measuring today's world and projecting these known quantities forward in time, the author draws a picture of the future and considers the possibilities for change and corrective action. In recent years, poverty among children in the United States has grown worse. The demographic realities include inadequate prenatal care, growing numbers of single parents, and family settings that result in childhood poverty. As the next century approaches and the "baby boom" generation matures, roughly half of the workforce will be between the ages of 35 and 54, creating a shortage of youthful workers. Many new entrants to the workforce, however, will lack the education and skills necessary to capitalize on this labor market. At the community level, the transformation from melting pot to racial and ethnic mosaic of a multitude of nationalities will transform the composition of the voting electorate into polycultural minority jurisdictions where no one group constitutes a majority. Yet, these groups will have a common economic stake in turning all children into productive adults.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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