The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown

The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown

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by Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center, Sean Pratt
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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
Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
The latest book from Pew Research Center executive vice-president Taylor (See How They Run) is structured around the titular generational showdown, which the author sees chiefly in the graying of America and the wider world. The wealth of statistical data found here, based on the Pew Research Center’s archive of public opinion surveys (covering topics such as church attendance and sense of progress) proves tantalizing on its own, but chapters repeat conventional wisdom familiar to any newspaper reader. The old concern about fewer young workers supporting too many benefit-consuming baby boomer retirees resurfaces here, but without unique insight. The book’s greatest strength lies in its detailed analysis of significant trends—from politics to lifestyle choices—among the four generational groups surveyed. A real treat that might justify the price of admission can be found in the “Living Digital” chapter. While the chapter suffers from making too much of a “representative” interviewee, it nevertheless furnishes readers with a detailed picture of how the younger generation has grown up with technology. At best, Taylor proves a plainspoken translator of sometimes opaque survey data, and makes esoteric statistical techniques accessible to the lay reader. (Mar.)
Library Journal - Audio
09/01/2014
Taylor (See How They Run) uses demographic and PEW public opinion survey data to explain demographic shifts in the United States and how these phenomena affect the nation's economic and social structures. The author analyzes data on generational differences that Pew collected over the past decade to present an intriguing view of the major generations and their different life scenarios. The generations include the silent generation (born 1928–45), now in their 80s; boomers (born 1946–64), in their 50s and 60s; Gen Xers (born 1965–80), in their 30s and 40s; and Millennials (born after 1980), in their 20s and 30s. The main focus here is on boomers and Millennials. The data reveals interesting insights into generational differences in attitudes and opinions about race and ethnicity, sexual preferences, religion, politics, finances, and the role of government—all hot-button topics today. Taylor explores how our diverse society has managed to get along so well, despite wildly divergent expectations and economic differences, and he discusses the already well-known issue of the solvency of Social Security, Medicare, and other federal benefit programs. VERDICT While narrator Sean Pratt's unhurried, no-nonsense reading will help maintain listener interest, a print copy may be the preferred format choice to help with absorbing all of the information contained in this data-rich, highly specialized work.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-16
An incisive survey of vast recent changes in American society and the ever-wider generation gap between baby boomers and millennials. In this well-written, data-rich book, Taylor (See How They Run: Electing the President in an Age of Mediaocracy, 1990, etc.), executive vice president of the Pew Research Center and a former Washington Post reporter, examines the demographic, economic, social, cultural and technological changes that are reshaping the nation. His key focus is on the problem of generational equity: "[A]s our population ages, how do we keep our promises to the old without bankrupting the young and starving the future?" Furthermore, he writes, the generations are "divided by race, politics, values, religion, and technology to a degree that's rare in our history." Some 76 million boomers are aging, worried about retirement and lamenting that they aren't young anymore. The 80 million millennials (born after 1980) are empowered by technology, coddled by parents, slow to embrace the responsibilities of adulthood, and comfortable with racial, ethnic and sexual diversity. At the same time, both groups face money troubles: Older Americans lack retirement savings, and young people have dismal job prospects. Yet the generations are highly interdependent; they are each others' children and parents, with 40 percent of millennial men (and 32 percent of women) living in their parents' homes in 2012. With the helpful charts and graphs, Taylor tells these generational stories against the larger background of a nation that is growing older, more unequal, more diverse, more mixed racially, more digitally linked, more tolerant, less married, less fertile, less religious, less mobile and less confident. He examines everything from intermarriage, the graying workforce and the gap-widening digital landscape to the new immigrants whose striving drives the growth of the country. Taylor is confident pragmatic Americans will avoid an intergenerational war and that the societal changes recounted here will ultimately compel reform of the social security and Medicare systems to provide for tomorrow's retirees. An authoritative report and required reading for policymakers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781494551971
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
03/28/2014
Edition description:
MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research.

Sean Pratt, a working actor for over twenty-five years, has performed at numerous regional theaters around the country. He is the author of To Be or Wanna Be, and he has recorded over seven hundred books in just about every genre, earning eight AudioFile Earphones Awards and four Audie Award nominations.

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