(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
The CBO is projecting a slowing rate of economic growth due to the aging of the population. Some of my favorite people are retirees mind you, but you don’t see all many of them developing new products, services or other innovations. They are retired after all and thus have largely withdrawn from the work world. Children largely have yet to enter into the work world. If you get a large percentage of your population as young and/or old, it will put a serious strain on your working age population to pay the taxes to maintain state services like education and health care.
Washington state not only comes in with the lowest projected percentage of young and old people, it is also currently one of the states that currently has no state income tax. Moreover, it borders a state (Oregon) also projected to have a relatively age demographic profile and that has no sales tax. I’ve never been to Vancouver Washington but let’s just say I’m keeping an eye on it. Texas with its favorable age demographics, solid business climate, and state revenue bubbling out of the ground (plus Tex-Mex!!!!) will be hard to beat.
The taxpayers of 2030 are in the K-12 pipeline right now. States like Arizona and New Mexico especially should feel nothing short of panic regarding how few of them can do little things like read and/or perform grade level math. Having almost half of your population falling outside of working age and large swathes of the working age population poorly educated looks like a recipe for disaster to these eyes. I’m a fairly determined optimist generally speaking, but low NAEP scores and high age dependency ratios appear highly troubling. Even states like Florida should regard their improved K-12 outcomes as merely a good start.
The burden of being a middle aged taxpayer in 2030 looks heavy, and it doesn’t improve afterwards. Many adjustments lie ahead, and there are things we could be doing now to help later. I can’t improve upon how the Economist put it, and it bears frequent repeating:
In rich countries, this generation of adults is not doing well by its children. They will have to pay off huge public-sector debts. They will be expected to foot colossal bills for their parents’ pension and health costs. They will compete for jobs with people from emerging countries, many of whom have better education systems despite their lower incomes. The least this generation can do for its children is to try its best to improve its state schools. Giving them more independence can do that at no extra cost. Let there be more of it.