The World Future Society has dusted off its crystal ball and made some thought-provoking forecasts of what the future may bring. The aging boomer population will demand increased medical attention, spawning more jobs in biotech, pharmacology, radiology, gerontology and nursing. At the same time a highly mobile U.S. culture will lead elderly patients seeking health care to facilities in lower-cost developing countries where medical services are increasingly sophisticated. With fewer older workers financially able to retire, companies will need to abandon compulsory retirement thresholds and help older workers revise their career-planning strategies. And younger workers will find it takes longer to reach “adulthood” (defined as being financially independent), thanks to a growing demand for advanced education, coupled with higher costs and disappearing education subsidies. Meanwhile, the trend toward the two-income family may have peaked—the percentage of two-earner couples fell from 53.7% in 1997 to 50.9% in 2003. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more moms are staying home—the proportion of households where only the mother works has risen three years in a row. A trend toward stay-at-home dads may prove a boon for cementing family connections—unlike working dads, the mothers who are employed outside the home still maintain a strong connection with their children. Finally, here’s one to make you smile: “In a ‘Super Tech’ scenario, pharmaceutical technologies could be so advanced by 2050 that humans may never need exercise again.”

World Future Society: Outlook 2006