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Demographics Guru David Foot Addresses Glendon Students


The Glendon Economics Club, a wholly student-run organization, invited David Foot to speak to several Economics classes on February 2nd. Foot is widely known for his best-selling book, Boom Bust and Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift (co-authored with Daniel Stoffman; published by Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1996), which has since been followed by an update: Boom Bust and Echo: Profiting from the Demographic Shift in the 21st Century (Stoddart 2001). Both are now available in French as well. These books reflect his research on the relationships between economics and demographics and on the resulting implications for both private and public policies.

Foot is a professor of economics at the University of Toronto, where he teaches a course on demographic economics, as well as participating in the Masters in Industrial Relations and Human Resources program at the U. of T.’s Centre for Industrial Relations. Glendon labour economics professor Rafael Gomez (a Glendon grad and an alumnus of this Centre’s program) has co-written several articles with David Foot. It was Gomez who informed his students about Foot’s books and made the suggestion that the Glendon Economics Club invite him as guest speaker about his work.

A capacity audience came to hear Foot, comprised of professors, current students from various fields of study in addition to Economics and Business Economics, some former students and several members of the Living and Learning in Retirement Program hosted on campus.

Foot discussed his model for predicting the behaviour of individuals, notably consumer behaviour, in which he has applied demographical analysis to economics, showing that there is a significant link between changing demographics and the economy. He talked about his initial predictions, set out in his first book, and affirmed that approximately 9/10 of them have come true since publication, supporting his original claim that ⅔ of everything can be explained by demographics.

Foot went on to outline some predictions for the coming years for today’s young generation, those currently attending high school and university. He stated that many economists view China as the next superpower, owing to its size and development as the fastest-growing production market in the world. In actual fact, based on demographical analysis, he expects that the populations of south-east Asia will be growing much faster and larger than China’s, pointing to India as a more likely next superpower. He offered forecasts in other areas as well, from investments to utilization of social services and other activities related to old age, as the ‘boomer’ group retires.

The Glendon Economics Club is one of the oldest student clubs in the campus’ history. Its aim is to offer enrichment to interested students, as well as contacts to the world of work through alumni and professors. The Club’s lectures, presented 4-6 times per academic year, also provide valuable background information for career choices after graduation. These meetings are important social events for students, enabling them to learn about the work of some of the best-respected academics inside and outside of Glendon, to see economics at work, and to gain opportunities for interaction with alumni and professors in an informal environment.

Article submitted by Glendon’s communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on March 15, 2005