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Who We Are: A Portrait of America Based on the 1990 Census

Who We Are: A Portrait of America Based on the 1990 Census

by Sam Roberts

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This study by the urban affairs columnist of the New York Times interprets the raw data from the Census Bureau's national census of 1990. The book contains much information that will come as no surprise to most readers: the number of teenage pregnancies in all ethnic groups is increasing; more than a million Americans are in jail or on probation; the Reagan-Bush administrations benefitted the rich primarily. And there are data which are essentially meaningless, like education measured quantitatively rather than qualitatively. The statistics show the results of racism in the nation: higher infant death rates, shorter life span, 84% joblessness or poverty-level employment for high school dropouts and fewer nuclear families among America's black society. Given the figures compiled here about the country's many troubles, the book serves as a warning that changes must be made. First serial to the New York Times Magazine and Cosmopolitan; author tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Themes in this thought-provoking work bring together otherwise discrete census statistics not only from 1990 but from earlier years: immigration patterns (``our complexion''); demographics (``where we live, how we dream and commute''); changes in the distribution of poverty; figures showing that correctional facilities got top housing investment dollars in 1990; comparative education levels of different elements in our population; and statistics indicating that the fastest population growth in the United States is occurring among those under age five or over 60. Can census data help tell us how to plan? Roberts, a New York Times urban affairs columnist, acknowledges a surfeit of variables but implies that we can learn from interpreting available information such as the census. Here, however, he predicts only that the world (including America) will be much more complicated and diverse in the future. An interesting and browsable book.-- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Denise Perry Donavin
By analyzing 1990 census results (and comparing them with results from previous years), Roberts points out surprising changes in American society as well as troubling echoes from previous eras. He touches on the aging of the U.S. population and on racial and economic discrimination, pointing out that "never before, despite previous waves of immigration, has the nation been so diverse. Nor have contrasts . . . been so stark." His informative summary of the census also describes how it was compiled.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed

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Meet the Author

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent of the New York Times, has written for the Times for more than two decades. Before joining the Times, he was a reporter and city editor at the Daily News. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and New York Magazine. Author and co-author of several books, he lives in New York with his wife.

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