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December 03, 2007

Millions of Americans Thinking of Leaving U.S. Part II

(Warning:  This is a long post.) In a follow up to my original post (and the numerous comments made) to "Millions of American's Thinking of Leaving U.S." the author of the original Agora Financial piece continued the discussion because his readers had similar reactions as you did:

"Incredulous" is the word that best describes the reaction of people when they hear Adams' conclusions. ......(people) greeted the poll results with skepticism. They asked, "How did he get this data? Who did they interview?"

"It's happening," Adams insisted, when asked about this new wave of emigration.

"And we really can't say exactly why."

While Adams' survey includes destinations all over the world, the survey's findings corroborate Adams' first-hand observations in Panama. Adams says the recent American immigrants to Panama are different from previous ones. Ten years ago, the typical American ex-pat in Panama was likely to be a retiree who had previously been in Panama. Perhaps they had been on a military assignment or with the Canal Zone administration. These folks tended to live in "American only" enclaves for social and security reasons and had fairly little interaction with the local population. These older ex-pats frequently used the words "tropical paradise" to describe why they moved to Panama.

But today's immigrants tend to be a lot younger, professionally employed, and more likely to meld into the international community than earlier transplants. These folks generally say they moved to Panama for adventure, a lower cost of living, or to escape the growing intrusiveness of the American political and legal systems.

If people emigrate to find economic opportunity, might Adams' survey portend bad news for the U.S.? Current U.S. GDP is $44,000 per person versus Panama's $8,000. It seems unlikely that people are leaving for immediate financial gains. Still, Panama is a young country demographically, with a median age of 26. Panama's GDP grew at an 8% clip last year. It doesn't have the U.S. baby boomers' $55 trillion unfunded pension liability. Neither is it involved in difficult, expensive Middle East nation-building. So we should not be surprised if a growing number of 20-to -40-year-old Americans are willing and eager to abandon the wealth that "has been" to pursue the wealth that "might be."

And the last paragraph speaks volumes.  Those countries with younger demographics are very attractive versus those countries with aging demographics like the United States.  We are not unique, however, just in denial.  And this denial can be costly.

There was a very telling article regarding the graying of Germany.  And never has the impact of an aging population been more poignantly described then in this NYT article

A United Nations report this year called this global aging “a process without parallel in the history of humanity” and predicted that people older than 60 would outnumber those under 15 for the first time in 2047.

The twin forces of rising life expectancy and falling birthrates have accelerated the process. This is apparent from the United States, where policy makers fret over the baby boom generation beginning to retire, to Japan, which has the highest share of people older than 60 in the world. As in Japan, more than a quarter of the population in Italy and Germany is over 60, and the phenomenon extends to Poland and Russia.

This is the reason why our younger generation is contemplating leaving - for greener economic pastures in more youthful countries.  Companies are seeking out younger developing countries to sell their product and to populate their ranks with huge numbers of willing workers.  When social security was instituted there were 47 workers paying for every retiree.  Within the next three decades it is anticipated there will be two workers for every retiree.  Is it any wonder there is concern by both the government and the younger generation?  This has to do with an aging demographic and no one can stop the aging of our country.  If our younger workers are now leaving this country who will fund social security, care for the aging, become doctors, lawyers, firemen?  This is the real crisis our country faces. 

Every potential negative situation can be a golden opportunity if you recognize it and know how to capitalize on it.

When you start your solo practice you need to consider everything discussed above.  Forget 'follow your passion' unless your passion happens to intersect with demographic and economic realities which are profitable in this changing landscape.  Our economy will change for multiple reasons and you need to be cognizant of this, not to avoid going into solo practice, but to select practice areas wisely and to create a business model which propels you forward at minimal cost and takes advantages of all technologies available.

Consider the following practice areas:

Bankruptcy, Trusts and Estates, Adoption, Surrogacy, Family Law, Immigration, Personal Injury, Criminal Law, Internet Law, International ANYTHING,  Business Incorporations, Real Estate (Foreclosures), Debt Collection, Elder Law

So, how does this changing demographic and economic landscape feature in your business plan as you project out not just five years, but ten, fifteen, thirty?

Remember, opportunities exist wherever you look.  You have to be prepared to take advantage of them.  As someone once said, "opportunity comes to visit...but not for long."

Links of Interest:

Bankruptcy; the New Blue Chip Practice Area   (and all links under Demographic and Economic Trends)

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Once again, Build a Solo Practice, LLC has a post that should get you thinking about your options as a home office warrior. in Millions of Americans Thinking of Leaving U.S. Susan reminds us that we are not bound by borders. Many of us working in a h... [Read More]

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