Late-in-life data could hint at next big industry

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Since coming to Pittsburgh in the 1960s for a six-month commitment and then sticking around, I have continually been searching, with my colleagues at Consad Research Corp., for Pittsburgh's next big industry. What's next likely to emerge after the current health industry dominance?

Are we now at the foothills of the next one? It would not necessarily come in the same form or line of business as its two predecessors: "steel" and "health" -- or "steel to heal" as we coined at that time. This next one might not be a case of all or nothing, but would be a big industry in terms of new value-adding businesses for the people of Pittsburgh, profits and nonprofits, and a hugely growing place for women's careers and lives.

Pittsburgh in the final decades of the 20th century made a very admirable transition to the health industry. That happened even while the steel and manufacturing industry are still very much here, though very different from their formal overpowering stature.

My colleagues and I have most recently turned to futuristic researchable issues bearing more or less on the retirement years of life than the earlier, partial to full-time earnings work life and years rewards. What do we already know about this former arena? These might fall into the following, potential researchable areas.

Potential Breakthrough Matter 1: We might consider researching those residents living not only on some earned income stream but mostly drawing later in career on retirement, pension-related, net worth (and, much less so, "current earned income"), public and private benefits, annuities/payments, property revenues, assorted long-term compensation, rent and loss recovery payments, etc.

We know very little about the demographics and earning/consuming/living and net worth patterns of these hundreds of thousands of individuals and their journeys in this later period of their lives.

Potential Breakthrough Matter 2: We could look at selecting the timing of and the living/investing/marketing use of these "retirement" net worth capital/investment/funds, including actions involving personal and group decisions regarding one's estate and post-estate and investments.

To some extent, reducing emphasis on the "earned income" side of our personal long-term economic and financial wherewithal, changing this to a more dynamic and ever changing retirement funding and investments are necessarily adaptive and multidimensional, involving all properties, riches, possessions, liaisons and wealth that bring about each of our regional and individual levels of "WEAL" -- our later-in life well-being, happiness, prosperity, possessions, relationships and welfare.

We need to better understand and appreciate these latter decades of life.

Why all of this is important is the increasing magnitude of that perpetual, always growing stock of wealth of all Pittsburgh and U.S. residents -- wherever they are and however they got there.

We cannot take this enormous late-in-life capital for granted -- certainly not its periodic productivity, not its degree of certainty, not what its buying and consuming and trading and peaceful/aggressive powers are and the impact of the United States among capital in the world.

My colleagues and I agree: We need to spend more time using our region's and national capital stock and bringing these closer to our analytic attention. Clearly, the U.S. is what it is mainly because of its capital stock in and about our national "future" weal.

What do you think? How has your wealth affected your life? Public policy economics and matters very much affecting present and future weal include: current and future earned income; tax rates, stability; pension benefits; collective bargaining; retirement age; and taxes to be paid and looming.

And why, where and in what way can we better learn about these macro wealth management issues better? Is there a "UPMC" level of weal-industry integration? Will Pittsburgh go through a steel-to-heal-to-weal progression?

In what way would a future weal industry and analysis investigation bring together basically a new third big industry? I believe that there are further improvements in wealth risk management with greater size and variety. What form might all of this take place in Pittsburgh and elsewhere? Thinking about Pittsburgh and its wealth of wealth and history of wealth, why not?

bizopinion

Wilbur A. Steger is president, chairman and founder of Consad Research Corp., an independent think-tank in the East End that launched in 1963.


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