Hugh Mackay is one of Australia’s pre-eminent social researchers and commentators. In Advance Australia Where he presents a range of data and inferences about changes in Australia and what it might mean for the future in an interesting and entertaining structure based on our passion for renovations. Examples of interesting information are:
- 25% of Australian households now only contain one person. This still only represents 10% of the total population but is projected to grow to between 12-15% over the next 20 years.
- Research shows that 90% of the female work force would prefer to work for a male boss.
- On average Australian couples only spend 12 minutes a day talking to each other.
- In 2006 12% of American newlyweds reported they had met online.
- Residents of Australia born in China and Southeast Asia still make up less than 3% of the Australian population.
Many of the factors and changes in population demographics reported in the book are set to fundamentally alter Australia over the next twenty years. Mackay goes on to speculate on many of these possible futures including the possibility that moments of freedom from our future of an always on and always connected society might be akin to the city dweller that goes to the country and suddenly sees the night sky in all its brilliance – a compelling analogy.
As futurists we must be aware of trends and changes that are taking place without falling in to the trap or regarding them as immutable. I am continually frustrated by statements in the media by people saying things such as “city x will be the fifth largest city in the world in 2040”. This is a statement that could possibly be true if thousands of assumptions and trends remain the same but the statements are commonly delivered with the certainty that we associate with the sun coming up tomorrow morning. Mostly Mackay steers away from these traps and provides useful information and possibilities for the future which can open our minds about different future paths. At times he moves into pure speculation without providing evidence or assumptions to back them up but overall the book is a very useful one for anyone who wants to think about the changes in Australian society, why they might have happened and what might happen in the future.