We Ask Slate Readers: What Is the Most Pressing Issue Facing America Over the Next 30 Years?

Tackling the most important issues of the next 30 years.
Oct. 1 2013 5:30 AM

The 30-Year Plan

What is the most important issue America must tackle in the next three decades?

American Prosperity Census: 2040
Drew Richardson tries to look through an American flag during a homecoming celebration for 150 soldiers who had been deployed in Mosul, Iraq, returning to Fort Stewart, Georgia, Feb. 20, 2005.

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images

This article is the first in a series presented by the American Prosperity Consensus in partnership with Slate. You can read the rest of the stories in this series here.

In 2040, the United States will differ greatly from the country we know today. Demographics trends will continue to reshape it, making it an older, more ethnically diverse nation. It will also become a denser, more urban population, which will affect the way we eat, work, shop, and relax. The policies the U.S. pursues at home will also affect the role that the nation plays in the world as a dynamic society and economy. These internal and external pressures create the need for robust policy solutions that address the country’s most vexing challenges and transcend today’s hyperpartisan, short-term decision making.

That is why the Copenhagen Consensus Center is launching the American Prosperity Consensus project in partnership with Slate.


The idea behind the American Prosperity Consensus is simple: We are asking you, Slate readers, to express your concerns about America’s future. What will be the most important issues facing the country over the next generation? What do you worry about for yourself, your children, or your grandchildren, now and 30 years from now? You have the opportunity to shape the debate.

The American Prosperity Consensus is designed as a competition of sorts. After we determine the most pressing issues according to reader input, we will ask economists and academics to propose policy solutions that best address these challenges while enabling America’s prosperity to continue and expand. With your help and with the guidance of Nobel laureates, we will create a list of top proposals. A final ranking will emerge from ongoing online debates and from the American Prosperity Summit, to be held in May 2014.

The APC will be open and interactive. Over the next two weeks, Slate will host the debate and contributions. Tell us not only what issues concern you most—also let us know who you think is doing great work to tackle these problems , whether they’re academics, organizations, philanthropists, or policymakers.

To inspire you, we’re asking leaders from across the U.S. to describe the problems they believe are the most important ones for America to fix over the next three decades. These articles will present eight different issues and eight different views of America through the year 2040. They come from a diverse range of viewpoints and address a wide range of issues, including education, infrastructure, regulation, and immigration.

The United States has long relied on its capacity to innovate and on its natural optimism to drive its success, a combination that enabled it to become the world’s largest economy and to wield the most influence on global affairs. We anticipate hearing from a diverse array of Americans about how they hope to overcome social, political, and economic challenges over the next three decades.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the United States over the next generation? Have your say in the comments section by clicking on the “comment” icon. Your contribution will help define the American Prosperity Consensus project. You can follow the project at america2040.com.


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