The Next America
By Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Group
*A Book Review*
by Michael C. Gray
© 2016 by Michael C. Gray
The makeup of the population of our country is always changing. We are seeing the last survivors of the "Great Generation" pass away, the aging of the Baby Boomers, and the rise of the Millenials. Each generation has its own tendencies of beliefs and life style.
In The Next America, Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center give us an updated picture of how America is changing and the potential implications politically and economically.
With the current Presidential election, most of us are aware that there are stark differences in political philosophy in our country. Taylor points out that our population has shifted dramatically even since President Obama was first elected in 2008. Minorities are a growing share of the population. The new generation just becoming eligible to vote is more liberal in general in its views and more accepting of LGBT people. The population is also becoming more secular and has less religious affiliation. These trends seem to favor growth of the Democratic party, and the Republican party possibly becoming irrelevent without a change in its platform.
One thing that is striking in studying the book is the important role that immigration plays in our economy. Our birth rate for families has dropped dramatically. This is consistent with other developing nations of the world. The population of the United States has continued to grow principally because of immigration. Most of us know that Social Security depends on the presently-working generation contibuting to sustain the retirement payments to the retired generation. We depend heavily on immigrants to sustain that system.
Life expectancy in the United States continues to become longer. The life expectancy of an American baby born today is 78.7 years, compared to 75.4 years 20 years ago. The number of people age 100 or older has increased from about 25,000 20 years ago to 50,000 today, and is expected to be about 500,000 by the middle of the 21st century. With this increase in life expectancy comes a change in what we consider "old" and the expected quality of life for American seniors. Some scientists believe we may eventually be able to extend human life indefinitely. Americans are working longer, creating competition for Millenials who are finding it hard to find entry-level jobs.
Marriage is declining as the normal family unit in our country, and is becoming viewed as a luxury to be enjoyed by the wealthy. Today, only 18% of adults age 18 to 29 are married, compared with 59% in 1960. The median age of marriage has increased six years during the last 50 years. In 1960, the marriage rate was 76% for college graduates and 72% for those with a high school diploma or less. In 2013, the rates were 63% and 45%.
These are just a few highlights of trends explained in The Next America. To understand current political and economic trends, I highly recommend that you get a copy and study it.
Buy it on Amazon: The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.
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