Archive for Friday, October 27, 2006

Kansas likely to be ‘giant retirement community’

Experts: Tough challenges ahead demographically and economically

October 27, 2006


This wasn't a pep rally for the Kansas economy.

Nearly 100 of the state's top business, academic and government leaders gathered at Kansas University on Thursday to discuss the Kansas economy as part of the university's annual Kansas Economic Policy Conference.

"There are big challenges," said Don Johnston, a Lawrence banker who attended the conference where speakers detailed issues ranging from an aging population to a tax system that is too reliant on residential property taxes. "If you look at the demographic trends, it looks like the state is going to become a giant retirement community, and that certainly will present challenges."

Speakers outlined concerns on several fronts:

¢ Demographics. Laszlo Kulcsar, an associate professor of sociology at Kansas State University, said current trends dictate that by 2030 the single largest population category in Kansas will be people older than 75. Or to look at it another way: The state's expected to add 251,666 people between 2000 and 2030. Only about 15,000 of those people are expected to be people younger than 64.

"For every 10 people that Kansas gains between now and 2030, nine of them will be over 65 years old," Kulcsar said. "Think of the social demands that will place on our systems. It is pretty much mind-boggling."

Kulcsar said people also shouldn't confuse Kansas' situation with what's happening in Sun Belt states, where well-heeled retirees are moving in. In Kansas the aging is happening in place. The reason older residents make up a larger percentage is because younger people are leaving the state and taking their higher fertility rates with them. The aging of the population is a national trend, but Kulcsar said it is happening faster in Kansas.

¢ Economic innovation. Joshua Rosenbloom, professor of economics at KU, told the crowd Kansas is lagging in several key categories that measure the state's economic innovation. He said Kansas has about 0.9 percent of the nation's population, but has only 0.7 percent of the nation's scientists and 0.6 percent of its engineers. On the positive side, state universities award nearly 1 percent of the country's science and engineering doctorate degrees.

"But we have a brain drain," Rosenbloom said. "That's the negative side of it."

¢ Public finances. Bart Hildreth, professor of public finance at Wichita State University, said the state and local governments are becoming too reliant on residential property taxes. In 2005, residential real estate made up 40 percent of the state's total assessed valuation. In 1988, that figure was 22 percent.

"If we continue on the current path, it may well result in a taxpayer revolt," Hildreth said.

He also said the state's sales tax has become weakened as a revenue source because of a number of exemptions. He said state leaders may need to consider a sales tax on services, which currently are exempt.

¢ Government structure. Kansas Speaker of the House Doug Mays said the state has a tremendous number of different governmental units, ranging from counties to school districts to townships. Mays said despite Kansas having slightly less than 1 percent of the nation's population, it has 2.2 percent of the nation's school districts.

Mays said he thought the large number of governments made the state less efficient, but he didn't anticipate the Legislature taking a tough stand on the issue because it is such a political hot potato in many small, rural communities.

Attendees of the conference, though, did leave with some optimism. Most speakers said there were some positive signs occurring within the last two years. That was the view Paul Wurth, owner of a long-term health care business in Overland Park, took.

"I think we should take some comfort that we now have our head back above water," Wurth said. "Where we are today versus two years ago is an improvement because at that point in time the only issue we could talk about was the school funding crisis. At least now we're able to talk about more than one issue."


KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Kansas is ripe for social programs. That's why they are coming. Hang onto your wallet. You think it is bad now, just wait.

not_dolph 11 years, 8 months ago

maybe they can relocate in East Lawrence...

toefungus 11 years, 8 months ago

KS is right. With the older crowd voting in social programs to suit their needs the younger set will be taxed to death. The back drain will join the brain drain and leave the state. You can already see this in the decline of state support for education. Those young whippersnappers can pay for their own schooling!

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 8 months ago

All those aged Republicans, creeping towards the voting booth with their walkers and false teeth in 2016, attempting to vote for Phill Kline for president!


Jamesaust 11 years, 8 months ago

On a bright note, while Kansas has 0.9 percent of the U.S. population, it only has 0.6 percent of undocumented immigrants, only 0.3 percent of gays, and a mere 0.05 percent of the country's athiests. So, its not all bad news.

Chase them all away and then act stupid when it turns out that no one remains behind.

tir 11 years, 8 months ago

Has anybody ever considered the possibility that quite a few of the Boomers will NOT be retiring any time soon, but will continue to work well past the normal retirement age because they HAVE TO in order to survive? I think a lot of Boomers are coming to the realization that they don't have enough retirement savings to live on, and they can't necessarily count on social security or even their pension plans to be significant sources of retirement income for them. So it may well be that a lot of older folks will still be in the workforce instead of living off the youth of Kansas.

Oh, and by the way, nugget, we're not all Republicans and some of us still have our own teeth, thank you.

Godot 11 years, 8 months ago

I hope this puts an end to the talk of exempting retirees from paying property tax.

KsTwister 11 years, 8 months ago

Incontinence in the Midwest (better than incompetance anyday).

ASBESTOS 11 years, 8 months ago

That is right. In the environmental sector, KDHE and KDOL chases private sector Engineers and scientists out of the state. They do this by providing services to the regulated community for free, and grnating them then freedom from legal entanglement.

What they should be doing is enforcing the regs.... and let the private sector find it's own way and let the environmental sector that is full of scientists and engineers to bloom.

Lot's of wealth NOT being generated because of insecure state agency types. Lot's of opportunity being wasted and growth not occurring because of 2 agencies.

werekoala 11 years, 8 months ago

This is part of a world-wide trend among developed nations - the better off you are, the less kids you have. And there's going to be one hell of a demographic hiccup post-BB generations are going to have to work through.

Most of this is a direct consequence of the fact that in the past 50 years or so, humans for the first time have been able to effectively manage their fertility. While there have been many significant advances in the 20th century, I honestly believe that when historians look back on our time, the Pill will be marked as one of the most socially influential inventions in human history.

But back to brass tacks - what do we do about this? Forced breeding programs, requiring every American under 40 to have 2.3 kids? I think there's enough people on Earth right now, the problem is that most of them live in poverty in the 3rd world. The best solution is aggressively integrating our country, once again inviting into our country those "cold huddled masses yearning to breathe free", and inculcating them with our American values.

I don't mean teaching them to love Jesus and vote Republican, I mean naturalizing them until they understand the value of our system of government, the Bill of Rights, due process of law, peaceful sucession and civilian control of the military. Teaching them about the American dream of being able to work hard and provide a better life for your children. Demonstrating a government not run by bias or favoritism, but by impartiality and justice.

If we do that, then we won't have to worry about our future and that of our country when we want to retire. Sure, maybe native-born US citizens will only make up 50-60% of the population in 50-60 years, but thank god, good citizenship isn't determined by ethnicity or heritage, but by allegiance to a set of some of the most innovative and well-thought-out founding principles the world has ever seen.

But for this to succeed, we'd kinda have to start paying attention to them again ourselves. Good luck with that, everyone.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

this is wonderful!

i'm sure all these old people will love living in a 'new urbanist' shopping center our city is embracing. that's called "good" planning. instead of condos, it can be a resthome.

jonas 11 years, 8 months ago

weerekoala: All of those ideas are designed to bring more kids and young people in to support the old people, which misses the point. The problem isn't too few young people, the problem is too many old people. Let's make it mandatory for people over 65 to take up Base Jumping and Competitive Dirt Biking. It will raise tourist revenue AND cut down on unnecessary elderly populations. It also fits nicely into my Soylent Food Supply plans, too. We won't need to run stockhouses and animal processing plants anymore, which should please PETA and the vegans quite a bit.

Janet Lowther 11 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps the best way to deal with the aging population is to get rid of quotas and go back to the way things were in the early days of Ellis Island and before: People show up at the border, check 'em for communicable diseases and being wanted criminals, give 'em papers and send them to look for jobs. They'll find jobs or go home.

No amnesty for illegals already here. They would have to go to the border and come in legally.

jonas 11 years, 8 months ago

Confrontation: I thought most of them already were.

werekoala: Do those children have to be ours, or can we go get them from other countries?

Or, maybe we can have a future where babies aren't born. . . they're grown.

werekoala 11 years, 8 months ago


, glad someone on here's got a sense of humor about the whole thing, though.

But really, wouldn't a supply-side solution be more in keeping with the current administration's philosophies? Maybe in order to vote, or become a citizen, you have to produce at least 3 children (2 to replace you and your spouse, one back-up).

Come to think of it, to ensure the greatest genetic diversity in our young people, we'd actually be better off only having one child from each set of parents. That's right, under my system, if you don't have 3 bastard children, your vote doesn't count!

Confrontation 11 years, 8 months ago

Dillons grocery stores are already horribly slow. Just wait until all their cashiers are in this aging group.

dncinnanc 11 years, 8 months ago


If politicians actually ACTED on their campaign promises, they would have no platform for the next election!

Bob Hiller 11 years, 8 months ago

This is pretty amazing. And our political candidates have overlooked this issue altogether. Seems to me that voters...and everyone else...should be concerned enough to pay attention to issues like this--before it is too late. Instead of focusing on "He said, She said" issues from 15 years ago.

werekoala 11 years, 8 months ago


Actually, I say we ask Angelina Jolie and Madonna to single-handedly adopt enough children to make up our dempgraphic shortcomings.

jonas 11 years, 8 months ago

werekoala: I don't know. . . . A world of senior citizen base jumping competitions I'm okay with. A world where multiple thousands of people would be "raised" by Madonna and Angelina Jolie? Now that's frightening.

TKELuke 11 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm So what they are saying is young people think Kansas sucks and don't want to stay here.

torinmia 11 years, 8 months ago

no offense meant, but don't people usually retire to WARM places? and by warm i mean all year long, not intolerably hot half the year

Commenting has been disabled for this item.