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Section 7: American Demographic Trends (Professional Life in the US for Immigrants) >> Book >> Section 7

American Demographic Trends

Two most common topics close to most Americans are — the economy and the weather, not necessarily in the same order. Most economists also realize that economic conditions are relatively “short term” and there are various other factors that are going to play a role in the long term, one of them being the demographics of the nation. There is an increasing mention of the change in demographic profile of the country in the media and elsewhere and I thought I’d research it a bit and was surprised by the findings. There are a few distinct demographic generations in the US.

Silent Generation: The first being the “Silent Generation”, consisting of those born between 1925 and 1942. They are hard working, economically conscience, and trusting of the government. They were very optimistic about the future and held a strong set of moral obligations.

Baby Boomers: The generation most talked about is the “Baby Boomers”, generally consisting of those born between 1945 and 1960. Boomers have a strong set of ideals and traditions, and are very family-oriented. They are fearful of the future and politically conservative. Boomers have shaped the current economy and financial markets to no small degree. Currently, they are in the segment of the life cycle characterised by having enough wealth or income to purchase items other than houses and cars. This wealth, often in the form of professionally managed retirement accounts, mutual funds, and pension funds, results in a huge infusion of funds into the markets for stocks, bonds, and other financial investments. The parents of the Baby Boomers are now reaching the latter stages of the life cycle and are beginning to pass down accumulated savings to heirs in sizable chunks. Billions and billions of dollars worth of wealth are being inherited every year.

Generation X: Next comes the Generation X consisting of those born between 1961 and 1981 who live in the present, like to experiment, and expect immediate results. By some accounts, they were the dominant force behind the boom. GenXers are considered to be selfish and cynical, and depend a lot on their parents.

Generation Y: The future generation Generation Y is already in the teens, currently age 14 and younger. Expected to be very materialistic, selfish, and disrespectful, but also very aware of the world and very technologically literate. There are 70.4 million youths in the US aged 5-22, comprising approximately 26% of the whole US population. Generation Y is almost three times the size of Generation X. Another interesting fact about this generation is that this is the most ethnically diverse generation yet. One in three is not white and nine out of 10 children under the age of 12 have friends of different ethnicity than their own.

Editor's note: You can also find details on demographics and statistics on's Statistics section

What does the changing nature of American demographics mean to Indians and Indian companies? 

If you are a young professional aspiring to come to the US, you need to be prepared to compete with the GenXers. You also need to prepare yourself for the influx of Generation Y youngsters into the job market in the next few years. They are going to be technically savvy and unlike the earlier generations, not hesitant to learn new tools and technologies. As the GenXers and Generation Y moves up the value chain, there will be a ripple effect on the economy. There will be a demand for people in the service sectors. Added to this, there will be a renewed demand for professionals who can service the needs of the aging baby boomers. Medical industry and the financial sector stand out as prime candidates for growth. Even the Insurance and service sector will see a renewed growth. Coming to the US will not be a walk in the park. However, there will be a definite demand for people with certain skills who can supplement the talents of local folks here.

For Indian companies, a study of American demographics might unearth interesting facts. They need to study the demographic profile in greater detail since it will help them in catering to the demands of the changing American market. The market for consumer goods is going to start booming; especially as the GenXers and Generation Y folks hit the job market and build disposable incomes. Interestingly, the aging baby boomers will require products and services to cater to their tastes too. They are extremely wealthy and will not hesitate to spend big bucks for quality products and services. Indian tourism industry take note, baby boomers are going to travel to exotic destinations and if we can provide them with the right kind of amenities. We need to generate some hype and with proper PR and marketing, India could easily become the “go to” destination. Indian software industry, which had got used to enjoying double (even triple) digit growth rates, is getting a jolt of reality. An industry that was content to match an abundant supply of qualified technicians with an insatiable demand from the global market, is seeing the ground shift beneath. 

Most Americans, believing in Keynesian maxim in the long term we’re all dead, are focusing on the short term. They are worried more about the immediate future, concerned about the stock market crash and current economic woes. Of course, there is a lot of negative economic data in the horizon and an economy slipping into recession is a pretty sight. However, even a cursory glance at the next decade or so, shows an interesting demographic shift, one which could lead to some interesting opportunities. I can already see Indian entrepreneurs sizing opportunities in the US, riding on the changing demographics. 

Extract from CIA’s World Fact book:


278,058,881 (July 2001 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years:  21.12% (male 30,034,674; female 28,681,253)
15-64 years:  66.27% (male 91,371,753; female 92,907,199)
65 years and over:  12.61% (male 14,608,948; female 20,455,054) (2001 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.9% (2001 est.)

Birth rate:

14.2 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Death rate:

8.7 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Net migration rate:

3.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Sex ratio:

At birth:  1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years:  1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years:  0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over:  0.71 male(s)/female
total population:  0.96 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

6.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population:  77.26 years
male:  74.37 years
female:  80.05 years (2001 est.)



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Book Index

  • Intro
  • Section 1: Visas and Immigration
  • Section 2 Finances
  • Section 3 Law and legal system
  • Section 4 Consumerism
  • Section 5 Life and weekends in the US
  • Section 6 Health and lifestyle
  • Section 7 Demographics
  • Section 8 Indians in America: Looking to the future after Sep 11th
  • Section 9 Preparing for the next wave
  • Appendix

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