1964 predictions about the year 2000

by on August 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm in History, Science | Permalink

From The New York Times Magazine, excellent visuals and excerpts.  As for how the world would look, from today’s vantage point:

It’s surprisingly still more like 1900 out there.

Housemaids, waitresses, and nurses will cease to exist as professions.  Fortunately:

By then, the last traces of racial and religious discrimination will have disappeared.

1 Freethinking Jeremy August 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

“By then, the last traces of racial and religious discrimination will have disappeared.”

Naive. Discrimination will NEVER disappear. Discrimination, stereotyping, and in-group biases are unfortunate, but they’re also natural and usually beneficial to the decision-maker.

2 Millian August 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Do you have evidence for the closing claims?

3 The Original D August 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

A better way of putting that is, on a personal level the downside risk of discrimination is low.

4 JonF August 11, 2012 at 11:48 am

So wilfull ignorance is beneficial?

5 Freethinking Jeremy August 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

The problem is, stereotypes aren’t ignorance, they’re usually rooted in experience.

When you see an old driver on the road, you keep a safe distance. When you see a man in grubby clothes on the sidewalk, you walk a little distance away to avoid being hassled for change. When you pick a house to purchase and live in, you won’t pick a black neighborhood.

This is all unfair. But it’s based on experience, not ignorance. And the benefits of discrimination to the decision maker outweigh the downside risks by a large margin. At least in cases where there’s not risk of being sued or facing some other sort of social punishment.

6 JohnFLob August 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Have you heard of history?

7 Jmo August 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Discrimination will NEVER disappear.

I have a friend who is a black gay software executive and he’s mentioned many times how he has a hard time understanding how awful it would have been if he’d been born in 1942 or 52 rather than 1972.

To go from this:


To this:


In what 2 generations? That’s pretty amazing.

8 Doc Merlin August 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Police in the US still use attack dogs on protestors, it just doesn’t make the news. A hispanic mother (with a small child) had a dog set on him just a few weeks ago in Pasadena. The protestors were protesting police brutality and the police killing a hispanic boy.

A man ended up defending her and getting attacked instead.

9 Andrew' August 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

“I have a friend who is a black gay software executive ”


I cannot believe you would admit associating with an executive.

10 jmo August 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Police in the US still use attack dogs on protestors

For protesting segregation?

11 Doc Merlin August 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

For protesting, police brutality on a minority. (yes they used police brutality on a minority for protesting police brutality on a minority.)

12 MD August 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I’m a white, male, middle-aged, well-paid professional with friends who are DAs, and around LA cops I act with the utmost obsequiousness. I respect them and I know that their job is much more difficult than mine, but I also fear them and their batons.

13 bunker brown August 13, 2012 at 4:57 am

MD – puhleeze. a cop’s job is mostly fun and games, no joke intended. I’d give anything to give up my cushy boring software job and become a cop, if the pay wasn’t a third of what I am making now.

14 mulp August 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I argue the American racial discrimination of 1964 has vanished. Today the discrimination is based on clan, tribe, ethnic lines that are so complex, the conservatives who enforced racial discrimination have moved onto new forms of discrimination to advance a much more limited set of non-economic objectives. In 1964, racial discrimination was about economic advantage to those enforcing the discrimination. Today, the discrimination that has replaced it more often than not harms the people doing the discrimination economically.

And the religious discrimination of 1964 has been eliminated – in 1960, Catholics were discriminated against for many reasons, and were seen as anti-American because of the Catholic social and economic teachings. The factions seeking to exclude Catholics were mostly conservative. Today, the most powerful conservatives are Catholics. Evangelicals were still feeling powerless and discriminated against in 1964, much as they felt under attack circa 1750 when they supported constitutional separation of church and state.

The claims of religious discrimination are all made up: “I’m under attack for my religion because you won’t let me impose my religion on everyone else.” Dictating religious marriage doctrine was ok for Congress to do in 1862, but now Congress is violating religious doctrine by letting people get married against the will of a religion totally uninvolved in the marriage.

15 Ed August 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I have a friend who claimed he was fired from his last job because he was a Catholic. Actually from what he wrote to me I think it was due to discrimination (meaning he accomplished what he was paid to accomplish, but the people hiring and firing just didn’t like his personal background) due to the fact that he was a New Yorker. He moved from New York to take a job in a red state. After being fired he moved to a blue state, and after a lengthy period of unemployment -being a blue state the unemployment rate was high- he got another job and was fine.

16 The Only Jim August 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

>The claims of religious discrimination are all made up

I can tell you’re not Jewish.

17 Millian August 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Tyler, I read the graph as under-forecasting GNP by 75%.

18 liberalarts August 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yes, the graph says 2 trillion. Using a CPI adjustor, that would be 11 trillion in 2000, so adjusting for inflation it was almost dead on.

19 RPLong August 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Only NGNP matters. Never reason from the passage of time.

20 JWatts August 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

They were pretty close as far as GDP goes. But they overestimated population by a lot, so they way underestimated per capita GDP. We are quite a bit richer than the writer predicted in 1960.

21 ziel August 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

You’re absolutely right. From the BEA website, 1960 GDP in 2005 chained dollars was 2,828.5b. Quadrupled, that’s 11,314b, while actual in 2000 was 11,216b.

In 1960, with a population of 180 million, that’s per capita GDP of around 16k. The projected per capita for 2000 (with their pop. est. of 331 m) works out to 34k – barely double the 1960 level. So why did their other predictions imagine us so much richer?

22 Spencer August 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Real GDP in 2005$ was $2828.5 B in 1960 and $ 11216.4 B in 2000.

That is a 3.97 fold gain.

The magazine chart does not state if their projection was nominal or real dollars.

23 Spencer August 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm

The nominal increase was from $526.5 B to $9951.5 b or 19 times.

24 ap August 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

It’s not reasonable to expect the chart to predict nominal GDP. In 1960 inflation was low and the inflation surge of the 1970s could not be forseen, at least by anybody who is as bad at soothsaying as any normal person.

25 Jan August 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Would be interesting to know which predictions from these types of lists have actually come true over the years. Anything? Some health-care related stuff maybe?

26 Ted Craig August 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm

The section about housemaids, etc., is somewhat accurate. They predict a future where people would rather be unemployable, but educated. There are shortages of nurses, mechanics and even GPs, although not to the level predicted. And there are few American-born housemaids these days in major cities like New York.

27 KLO August 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm

There are more than 2.7 million registered nurses in the U.S. Is there really a shortage of them? I would ask the same question about mechanics. Can you not get your car fixed in a timely manner at reasonable cost?

Yes, I am aware of the many articles about the labor shortages for all sorts of professions. The shortages of nurses, programmers, scientists, college educated persons, train conductors, plasma cutter operators and lettuce pickers are permanently “looming.”

28 uffy August 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Do you have any evidence that there are shortages of those workers?

29 ChrisA August 11, 2012 at 12:22 am

Here is some evidence that people would rather be unemployed than take low prestige jobs in America. It is the lack of chauffeurs, despite high unemployment. Most rich people in Asia have them, and Google is investing in technology to create driverless cars, so we know there is likely demand for this service. But there is almost no advertising of the willingness of unemployed people in the US to take a job as a personal driver, even if the money is comparable to, say, McDonalds.

Perceived status is a bigger driver of personal actions than many people realise, money is simply a means to status or a proxy, it is not the actual goal. Hence very frequently people would rather be unemployed than lower their status, even if it means less money.

30 dan1111 August 11, 2012 at 3:17 am

This is not quite right. There are far fewer chauffeurs in America than many Asian countries because the cost of labor is much higher here. This is not simply an effect of people refusing to work. There is a baseline minimum cost of employing someone that is set by the government, through minimum wage, social security and medicare contributions, and various other regulations. Just this cost is probably a lot higher than the starting wage for a chauffeur in, say, China. And then, on top of that, you may have to pay more to hire someone. It’s not because no one is willing to work as a driver for minimum wage–look at all the people delivering pizza. It’s because the experienced, reliable driver that you would want to work as your chauffeur probably has various job opportunities to choose from–even in this economy–and thus has a higher price.

31 JonF August 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

Re: They predict a future where people would rather be unemployable, but educated.

How can one be unemployable but educated (assuming no actual pathologies are in the picture)? Uneducated yep– as we have automated unskilled manual labor jobs out of existence that’s become a reality.

32 nickMR August 12, 2012 at 5:01 am

They predict a future where people would rather be unemployable, but educated.

A spot-on prediction.

33 rj sigmund August 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm

any thoughts on the CBO projections 75 years out?

34 Spencer August 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

There are housecleaning firms all over the country where you can hire a housemaid on a part time basis.

35 Major August 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Love their picture of New York City, c. 2000. Flying cars!

36 ed August 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Remember back when people used to use GNP instead of GDP? Wonder why they did that.

37 Yancey Ward August 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Why be surprised? People today can’t even remember correctly the history they lived through.

38 Alexei Sadeski August 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Judging by the illustration of year 2000 NYC city streets, it appears that people in 1964 radically underestimated the growth of the anti-construction lobby.

39 Kai August 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm

“Housemaids, waitresses, and nurses will cease to exist as professions. Fortunetelling…”

Why is this unfortunate? In the overall economic sense; of course, individuals may be saddened by the loss of work, however new jobs appear as well (the job market for whatever replaced them etc.), so why would this have a negative impact in the economy?

40 Kai August 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Fortunately, not fortunetelling. My mistake.

41 freethinker August 11, 2012 at 6:12 am

I don’t know if affirmative action polices were prevalent in America in 1964 but if they were one could have predicted that these policies will thrive in 2000. That is one prediction which would have had no chance of being proved wrong

42 PK August 11, 2012 at 10:09 am


Fortunetelling is alive and well under the name “economic research”.


43 John David Galt August 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

“By then, the last traces of racial and religious discrimination will have disappeared.”

This happened by 1970, except for “reverse” racism.

Of course, now that people like Al Sharpton have built a whole scam-industry around the myth that traditional racism still exists, they and their supporters will continue to commit reverse-racism as long as they live. And everyone who plays the “race card” today is participating in the scam.

44 freethinker August 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Many African Americans have a vested in giving the impression that there is racism since it gives an excuse to continue with tech affirmative action policies. This is so in India too: there are caste groups who unfairly benefit from affirmative action and these groups, including the affluent among them, want to give the impression that they are an oppressed lot when in fact they oppress others in the work places. So “racism” as an issue will always be alive and well unless affirmative action is abolished

45 The Anti-Gnostic August 13, 2012 at 10:39 am

Racism will always be alive and well so long as most people prefer to have children with somebody who looks more rather than less like them. On the margins, the Asian female phenotype tends to have broad appeal but obviously we’re still talking about racial preferences.

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