As demographic trends unfold, questions arise. This is the first of a two-part post with 10 vital questions about ongoing demographic trends. The fresh data to be released in 2017 may answer these questions. (Click here for Part 2.)
1. When will the baby bust end? Population growth in the U.S. has slowed to a crawl because of the ongoing baby bust. The annual number of births fell 8 percent between 2007 (the peak year) and 2015. The fertility rate is at an all-time low, and most childless women say they don't expect to have children anytime soon. How long will they wait?
2. Why is life expectancy declining? Life expectancy fell in 2015 for the first time since 1993, and death rates rose for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death. The experts are wondering what's going on. With so many focused on this troubling trend, we might get some answers in 2017.
3. Will homeownership make a comeback? The homeownership rate fell to 63.7 percent in 2015, the lowest since 1967 and 5.3 percentage points below the 2004 peak. Among 30-to-44-year-olds, the decline exceeded 10 percentage points. After waiting more than a decade for home buying to stage a comeback, will 2017 be the year we throw in the towel and declare lower rates to be the new normal?
4. What will save small town and rural America? We're in the midst of an urban renaissance. The population of the nation's most urban counties grew faster than others between 2010 and 2015, while rural counties lost population. Economic growth, too, is occurring disproportionately in large metro centers. Outside these hubs of activity, there's a male employment crisis. What can small town and rural residents do to get back in the game?
5. When will Millennials marry? The median age at first marriage is at a record high for both men and women as Millennials remain single longer than any other generation in history. The economic consequences are huge and include the urban renaissance, the baby bust, and the decline of homeownership. The Millennial generation, more than any other, will determine what we will be talking about this year.