The economy does has an effect on this hobby. It's not cheap and the investment for a new person is complicated by the frequent and total loss of their investment. Yes, beginners do start out with crashes and that never ends totally. This new generation hasa different focus and definitely a different upbringing.
A cheap plane set up costs $150.00. That ends up in a Glad Bag and the frustration drives a nail in the coffin for quitting. Dues to a club field, gas at $4.00 a gallon, AMA membership and other expenses add up.
There's no way around the costs.
This all added to the fact that this new generation isn't into real life participantentertainment other than perhaps going to a sporting event. Computer games, Face Book, Internet dating sites have taken the physical activity away from hobby interests. God forbid a young person have to take the time to preflight, or build an ARF, attend a club field when they can video chat all day and play the newest blood game sport on their computer.
The good news. WOW...look how much flying time we can get in without all the people at the field.
I personally started this hobby late in life and that is what has kept me so rivoted. It truly is an awesome hobby. I think my last trimester of life and the earned wisdom I have absorbed in 60 years gives me the respect and patience needed to survive the expense.
That and I'm too old and ugly to internet date anymore!