The America of the near future will look nothing like the America of the recent past.
America is in the throes of a demographic overhaul. Huge generation gaps have opened up in our political and social values, our economic well-being, our family structure, our racial and ethnic identity, our gender norms, our religious affiliation, and our technology use.
Today's Millennials - well-educated, tech savvy, underemployed twentysomethings - are at risk of becoming the first generation in American history to have a lower standard of living than their parents. Meantime, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every single day, most of them not as well prepared financially as they'd hoped. This graying of our population has helped polarize our politics, put stresses on our social safety net, and presented our elected leaders with a daunting challenge: how to keep faith with the old without bankrupting the young and starving the future.
Every aspect of our demography is being fundamentally transformed. By mid-century, the population of the United States will be majority non-white and our median age will edge above 40 - both unprecedented milestones. But other rapidly aging economic powers, like China, Germany, and Japan, will have populations that are much older. With our heavy immigration flows, the US is poised to remain relatively young. If we can get our spending priorities and generational equities in order, we can keep our economy second to none. But doing so means we have to rebalance the social compact that binds young and old. In tomorrow's world, yesterday's math will not add up.
Drawing on Pew Research Center's extensive archive of public opinion surveys and demographic data, The Next America is a rich portrait of where we are as a nation and where we're headed - toward a future marked by the most striking social, racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.
©2014 Paul Taylor (P)2014 Tantor
"The book's greatest strength lies in its detailed analysis of significant trends - from politics to lifestyle choices - among the four generational groups surveyed." (Publishers Weekly)
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I admit it. I was being a chuckle-head when I told my nephew, a twenty-something, "Ah, you Millennials!" Then he shoots back with, "What is that? That's just a scientific construct." I was blown away. How to answer? I mean, of course there are differences; it's not just about being different ages, right? It's not just about the fact that I grew up with a rotary phone and he uses a cell phone, right?
I really, really wish I had listened to "The Next America," by Paul Taylor before that, instead of leaving the evening, seething in my head: Listen, ya unemployed, Brown-educated, saddled-in-student-loan-debt, young pup (I'm a Gen X-er, but I seethe like the most petulant of the petulant). Perhaps we could've had an intelligent conversation about what it meant to him, growing up in his generation, living amongst so many other generations, that generations are given names, not because they're constructs/are generic, but because they have general personalities all their own.
This book delves into similarities and differences of all the generations, not just Boomers and Millennials, to show how we've grown and become ourselves as a nation.
There are a lot of stats here, A LOT of stats, but my GOD, are they interesting. What older generations find inconceivable, newer generations accept with open arms. There are questions of racial equality, acceptance of homosexuality, do ya really, really wanna live forever, do you think America's the GREATEST nation on earth, should have an activist government, how important is religion to you?
And, ah, the Digital Age? Those Millennials who will talk to you/each other but will keep their eyes on their cell phones lest they miss something. (And that, I WILL hand to my nephew, he has an oooooold cell phone and he rarely texts!)
Another thing that makes this book so fascinating, is that other countries are studied and weighed. So when America's aging crisis is considered, we get a view of China's One Child Policy (One child for two aging parents, for four aging grandparents), and Japan's (there's a Japanese word for growing old and dying alone). Can the Millennials take care of all the Boomers? Do the Boomers have faith that they'll be taken care of? (And I was TOTALLY disheartened to hear that Social Security would be pretty much kaput by the time I turned 67... wah...)
The narration is perfectly engaging, but, as plenty of it is statistics, which can make it feel like it goes on and on, I suggest listening to it at x1.25 speed; you don't miss a thing, and you skip out on the ponderous pauses.
Great, eye-opening book.
And I do love that git of a nephew o' mine...!
Report Inappropriate Content