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Monday, July 03, 2006

Future boom regions

I'm no sociologist, but that’s never stopped me from pontificating.

In a world of change, one constant is that there is always a boom region — a place where people move en masse for whatever reason is in vogue at the moment. California comes to mind: the 1849 gold rush, the Dust Bowl migrations during the Great Depression, and the dot-boom of the late 1990s (that became the dot-bomb of 2001) are probably three of the better-known examples. Southerners moved to Detroit and other midwestern locales through the 1940s and 1950s to work in the auto factories, and midwesterners returned the favor during the Sun Belt migration of the 1970s and 1980s. And until last year, it seemed like everyone was moving to Florida — although now many Floridians no longer think the warm winters are compensation enough for a summer of hurricanes, and are moving to high ground (often around here).

Predicting where and when the next booms will happen is a guessing game, but I see trends pointing to two places in particular during the next 25 years:

Michigan (and the entire Great Lakes region)
One word: water. Many southwestern (and even southeastern) boom areas are straining to get enough water for drinking, irrigation, and industry. Eventually, they’ll need water more than warm weather — and what with global warming, Michigan’s winters are getting milder (I remember when snow cover all winter was normal, now it comes and goes). Naturally, the dry states will resist the trend, expecting the Great Lakes region to just give them water. In fact, their first attempt went down in flames some years ago. There will be a nasty political fight over water sooner or later, but many people will give up waiting and move their homes and businesses to a place where water supplies are reliable.

An excellent infrastructure coupled with a declining population makes Europe another likely destination, although there are some factors that may limit or kill the boom a-borning: lingering tribalism (the EU notwithstanding) and a little too much government for some peoples’ tastes are the two major ones. But with fewer Europeans, property values will begin declining and businesses (and governments) will start offering incentives for skilled foreigners to immigrate, and many people (especially liberal and moderate Americans, fed up with their own government) will take the plunge.

Of course, I could be totally wrong — things can change overnight and the next boom could be in Thailand or Namibia, for all I know. You, dear readers, might have your own ideas about future boom regions — leave a comment or a link if you’re inclined.


  1. Hi FARfetched.

    That's pretty interesting about migrating to the great lakes areas. I had never thought of that. With global warming and all I'm thinking maybe more Canada.

    As to other parts of the world, I don't know. I do know when I lived in Germany a lot of the people were already complaining about the number of Turks that were in the country, and this was 25 years ago. For some reason I still think there is enough of a xenophobic attitude in Europe to preclude too much of a migration.

    As far as water, I totally agree. People move to where the water is. To this day I don't see how the Southwest has supported so many people with their limited water supplies.

    I am rambling on this morning. When the migration starts, get rid of the chickens and set up duplexes.

    See ya.

  2. FM, I agree with the xenophobic attitude — my "lingering tribalism" comment was meant to be pretty broad — but I think the Euros would be OK with a bunch of Americans moving in... they mostly look familiar and may have relatives in the area anyway. (A nice way of saying "most of them would be white.")


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