I attended a big actuarial conference this week and one slide at one of the presentations caught my attention.
The topic was marketing insurance to the middle market (defined as household income of $35,000-$125,000).
The speaker commented several times on the differences between the older baby boomers (born in the first 10 years of the boom) compared to the younger boomers and Generation X. The older boomers saved, took financial responsibility, and basically lived within their means. The younger boomers and those who follow them are debt-ridden spenders. It's very hard to sell insurance to this market because they have so many other needs, due to their profligacy.
He said - and this is where I thought of the Orthodox community - that things will not change for this group until they suffer a lot of PAIN. He predicts:
1) multigenerational housing - people moving in with their adult kids.
2) family interdependence [you had a post about this recently].
3) people working longer, putting off retirement - although he does not see jobs being available for this group when it ages.
4) an increase in poverty.
This was a good example of how the problems we see in the Orthodox community are not necessarily unique to our community. Many of the problems in the Orthodox community mirror problems in the rest of society (although frum people like to think that they're insulated and special). Maybe the frum world has the financial pressure of paying tuition - but if it weren't tuition, there's likely be something else to squander money on.
The generation before mine somehow managed to pay tuition and not go broke. Different generation, I guess.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thank you to the guest poster for sharing comments in industry re: the spending habits of the young. The Orthodox community shares that same plight, often coupled with our own meshugas and sociology, for lack of a better term. I think the Orthodox community as a whole is already knee deep in all four symptoms mentioned:
1. While I haven't seen too many parents moving in with children, I know of many married, adult children (often with children) who have found they cannot afford to maintain their own living quarters and have moved back in with parents. This must be a challenge in the shalom bayit arena.
2. Family interdependence is extremely high, and often unrecognized. I might be mistaken, but I have referred to many families that claim they receive no financial support, but they receive many, many hours of unpaid babysitting. Even where money is not being exchanged, there is interdependence.
3. I know empty nesters with higher mortgages than I have. 'Nuff said. Retirement is out of the picture for so many families.
4. Signs point to an increase in poverty.