Joel Kotkin forwarded this article in the Oregon Environmental News. Seems that baby boomers will retire to rural communities in big numbers, for maybe 15 years. This is likely to be particularly important in Central Oregon, and it is a mixed blessing. The baby boomer’s impact on Central Oregon’s economy will persist long after the baby boomers are gone.
Retirees work like an export industry for a community. They live in the community, but their income is from a retirement fund completely independent of the community. That’s good, but all is not sweetness. The article hints at some of the problems:
“Migrating boomers don’t necessarily care about school quality or the local job market, but they want pretty scenery, affordable housing, cultural amenities and things to do.”
That quote gets it slightly wrong.
Retiring baby boomers will be moving to a community because they like it just the way it is. They do care about school quality and the local job market, but in a perverse way. They don’t want to see an improving economy. That would be growth. That would be change.
To the extent that improvements in school quality or an improving job market creates change, boomers will actively resist the improvement. They have the time and resources to make that resistance effective. Boomers will put in place laws, regulations, and procedures that will limit any change. Good change or bad change, it doesn’t matter. Boomers will fight all change.
Eventually, as the article points out, the baby boomers will no longer have the vigor to enjoy the rural life style. Then they will leave. They will leave a legacy that will retard economic growth for a generation or more.