Don't count on it.
We've discussed the possibility of more jobs opening up when the baby boomers retire.
Hasn't happened yet. Might not ever.
This beautifully written article in the Chronicle has quite a bit to say on the subject, and is well worth the time to read completely.
One excerpt on the subject of history repeating itself (because no one was listening the first time):
Mr. Ehrenberg thinks the majority of academic retirements will occur naturally. "I don't think colleges are going to be in such a hurry to kick people out," he says. He and others say that young Ph.D.'s should not count on a windfall of jobs as their elders turn emeritus. Cost-conscious colleges, for instance, could shift some jobs off the tenure track. And past predictions of waves of retirements helping out the academic job market have flopped: A major study published in 1989 by William G. Bowen, then president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, predicted that colleges could face severe faculty shortages by the end of the 1990's, largely because of retirements. But the expectations raised for an improving job market in the arts and sciences did not materialize.
I think there is no way these retirements are going to happen naturally. The numbers just don't add up. Scroll to the bottom of the article for several useful tables citing percentages of institutions that say they want to recruit new faculty (96%) but are clearly not thinking about where they'll put us how we'll be paid, since many fewer institutions say they are thinking about retiring old faculty (19%).
How can that be? Here's another excerpt explaining why this is more of a problem now than ever before:
The average age of retirement in the general population is 62. But in academe, faculty members appear to be retiring at 66, on average, and that age is drifting upward, although retirement data is not always as crisp as demographers might like. The August telephone survey found that about one-third of those responding expected to retire at age 70 or later. The ability of colleges to enforce a mandatory retirement age of 70 ended in 1994, when an academic exemption for a federal age-discrimination law expired.
Maybe the academic exemption wasn't such a bad idea. Maybe they shouldn't have retired it!