Affordable, desirable housing….How about a caravan?
Would 10 million people in Australia live in a caravan park? That’s right, about 50% of the total population. If so, we’d certainly need more caravan parks.
At present, less than 0.5% of Australia’s population live in a caravan park – and the trend is actually decreasing. But back in 1935, a prediction was made about “trailer park” living in the USA – that by 1955 HALF the population would be living in a caravan (that would be almost 150m people today).
The outrageous prediction was made by Roger Babson – a statistician, entrepreneur and one-time US Presidential candidate.
What led him to make such a momentous overstatement?
Babson was, at the time, seen as a financial guru, much like Alan Greenspan or Warren Buffett. He had predicted the stock market crash of 1929 and had also made a fortune out of prudent investments, based on a series of statistical analyses he developed – many of which are still in practice today. The firm he established, Babson’s Statistical Organisation, still exists, and is now known as Babson-United inc.
In the 1930’s following the great depression, housing was expensive for most people but the trailer boom had begun. They were affordable, and more importantly offered flexibility in living and working arrangements for families that wanted (or needed) to travel around seeking work. Babson’s statements actually fueled this boom, with new trailer manufacturers coming into the market to satisfy the rampant demand. As a stock market investor, it’s also possible that Babson had an investment in the sector, and so he might have predicted his own income growth!
By the late 30’s the boom had run out of steam and the “golden age” of trailers was over. In any case, it remains one of the most grandiose predictions of our time…..think about it next time you drop in to the local caravan park on holiday – it could have been 1000x bigger!
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