The following chart represents births in the United States per 1,000 people. The segment in red demarcates the birth years between 1946 and 1964, which is generally considered to represent the Post-World War II population spike known as the Baby Boom. Besides this jump, we have for the most part been seeing declining birth rates.

US Birth Rates.svgUS Birth Rates" by Saiarcot895. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Given the magnitude of this population segment, demographers and others love to talk about the impact that this generation has had and will continue to have on society, particularly as many Baby Boomers now start to enter retirement.

But arguably one of the most significant areas of impact could be the housing market. Today, I stumbled upon an interesting CityLab article from last year talking about “The Great Senior Sell-Off.” And it raises an important question: As Baby Boomers begin to sell off their large single-family homes in the suburbs, will there be enough people to buy them?

For the most part, the next generation seems to still want a nice detached house in order to raise a family. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the numbers will match up. Because if you factor in generation size, buying power, and even small shifts in consumer preference (towards, say, urban centers), the equation may not balance.

If this ends up being the case, I don’t think it’ll impact large, growing cities as much. I mean, most are operating today with severe supply deficits. Instead it’ll probably be the smaller, perhaps already declining cities, that feel it the most. And this will ultimately serve to reinforce the “spiky” world that we’re already seeing today.

At least that’s my hunch.