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How will Utah growth hit home?

How growth affects people personally is just as important as the impact it has on Utah's cities, roads and environment.

Significant changes outwardly in the next 10 to 20 years will likely necessitate some alterations inwardly in most if not all of us.Human service issues such as lifestyle, health care, care for the elderly and child care will evolve just as other issues such as the economy, transportation and housing do. They're intertwined.

For example, gridlock on the interstate means more time in your car. But it also means less time with family and friends.

How will Utahns cope with the demands of the future? Now is the time to prepare to address them.

Today's family structure in Utah isn't what it was 10 years ago and will undoubtedly be different 10 years from now. Many of the same pressures will remain - making time for family, making money and attempting to live meaningful lives.

Utah's birthrate, which far exceeds the national average, nonetheless is dropping as more women enter the work force. Still it's high enough that if it continues at its present pace, Utah's population could be as high as 5 million by 2050.

Probably the biggest change in family life in the last 50 years in Utah is the increase in the number of women who work. Utah exceeds the national average as more than 60 percent of women work. This is in stark contrast to the post World War II years when Utah had the lowest percentage of married women working outside the home.

The number of women in the workplace factors into child care, meals at home, family togetherness and how household tasks are done. Fortunately, advances in technology save both men and women considerable time and effort when it comes to tasks like fixing meals and doing the laundry.

Caring for the elderly will be even more challenging than it is today. There will more of them, thanks to the baby boomers and modern medicine. The elderly of tomorrow, unlike their parents, are also much more likely to want - or demand - services. Financial planning will be an absolute must in order to provide for the increased demands. And baby boomers need to plan for their own golden years.

Government programs will be able to provide some assistance, but families should plan to provide the bulk of help.

Churches, which currently play a considerable role in Utah's communities, will continue to have great influence. That is good, because as family and career pressures mount, the need for spiritual nourishment will increase. Various ecumenical approaches are liable to emerge for solving common problems.

Utahns have a lot to think about and a lot to do in the next 10 years.