The Next America

Author: Paul Taylor

I recently attended a lecture by Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center in which he reviewed a fascinating series of demographic information depicting the generational makeup of America. I am not sure what caused me to select this particular lecture, but it was a fascinating exercise that gave me a new slant on our dysfunctional and polarized political system.

“The Next America” by Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center was on sale outside the lecture hall and it seemed very fitting to continue this journey into the facts and figures that describe the makeup of our society and, indirectly, our politics.

I am likely well behind the curve, but this is the first time that I really focused on the four defined generations that run from “silent” to “boomer” to “gen x” to “millennials”, with each attributed to roughly an 18 year cycle.

Instead of thinking of politics through the usual prisms of right v. left, republican v. democrat, wealthy v. poor, educated v. dropout, white v. black, city v. rural, etc., I will now layer my thinking with the primary focus of the book: boomer v. millennial. In so many ways, the demographics of these two generations explain the tensions driving our rampant dysfunction and polarization. But, at the same time, when you drill down to the essence of these groupings, there is sufficient hope for future resolution.

Here is a sampling of facts that I found very compelling in telling the story of “The Next America”:

  • A teenager has less chance of being raised by both biological parents in America than anywhere else in the world.
  • The percentage of young adults ages 18-31 living in their parents homes in 2012 is the highest share in modern history.
  • Millennials are more bullish than their elders about their financial future, with nearly 9 in 10 saying they will one day have enough money to meet their financial needs.
  • Millennials will represent 36% of the electorate in 2020.
  • By mid-century, 37% of the population will be “immigrant stock” (either immigrants or their US born children), representing the highest such share in US history.

I am not sure I am capable of juggling all of the data in order to predict where we are headed, so I suggest you read the book to educate yourself and draw your own conclusions.

 
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