Paul Taylor:

"The Next America" (2014)

(Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Taylor uses data from various Pew Research Center's polls to analyze how the USA is changing.

The USA in the 1960s:

  • Expanding middle class
  • Secure lifetime jobs
  • Strong family values
  • High church attendance
  • Distinct gender roles
  • Polite media
  • Friendly politics
  • Prejudices towards other cultures
  • White (85% of the population) or black (10%)
  • Immigration mostly from Europe
The USA in the 2010s:
  • Shrinking middle class
  • Economic insecurity
  • Broken families, single parenthood, gay marriage
  • Low church attendance
  • Towards gender equality
  • Polarizing media
  • Polarized politics
  • Tolerance towards other cultures
  • Less white (64% of the population), more Hispanic (16%) and more Asian (5%)
  • Immigration mostly from Asia and Latin America

The population is getting older, although not as much as in Japan and Europe, because immigration is keeping the median lower than in most of advanced countries. To me (an immigrant myself), immigration is the real protagonist here.

Something very important had happened in the Sixties that was underestimated given the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the hippies and everything else that was going on. Between 1921 (when the USA enacted the "Emergency Quota Act" that restricted foreign immigration) and 1965 (when the USA enacted the "Immigration and Nationality Act" that reopened the doors to foreign immigration) the population of the USA had remained mostly white protestant of European origin. After 1965 the population mix of the USA began to change.

Taylor shows how moral values are vastly different between millennials and previous generations but doesn't quite emphasize the most striking of his data on immigrants. It is true that young white males have a much more liberal view of the family than their parents and grandparents; but this is not true of Asian-American immigrants. Asian-Americans have the strongest family values of all: in 2010 marriage was ranked as the most important thing in life by 54% of Asian-Americans versus 34% of all US citizens. In fact, they are more likely to be married than any other ethnic group, and their children are more likely to live in a traditional family with children of any other ethnic group.
It also turns out that Asian-Americans are the most educated ethnic group (49% had completed college education in 2010 versus only 31% of whites, and, in particular, they accounted for 45% of all engineering degrees) and the wealthiest ($66,000 household income in 2010 versus $54,000 for whites). The latter datum is particularly striking because the super-rich tend to be white, and they distort the statistics of household income for whites. The gap between ordinary Asian-American families and white families is much bigger than those numbers show. Last but not least, Asians overtook Hispanics as the main immigrant group in 2009 (counting only those who immigrated legally). Therefore, the general view held by old-fashioned conservatives that the new immigrants are destroying the traditional way of life is not quite true. Asian-American immigrants tend to be more "traditional" than whites (and they are also smarter). The same is probably true of Hispanics, who are mostly Catholics, although statistics about Hispanics are less reliable because so many of them are illegal immigrants (often having left their families behind).

Bottom line: it is really the white population that is experiencing the biggest generational change, although the majority of those over 30 are still attached to old values.

The book has dozens of intriguing statistics.

It is only a bit annoying that the book keeps talking of the USA as "America". America is a continent, the USA one of its countries. Statements such as "A teenager has less chance of being raised by both biological parents in America than anywhere else in the world" are factually false. The place where this is true is the USA, not Brazil or Canada or Argentina (which are all located in America). Hopefully the Millennials will learn to say "USA" (and not "America") when they mean "USA".