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tv   After Words  CSPAN  March 24, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EDT

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ground and they set the fire where the ambassador died of smoke inhalation. but the other two died eight hours later. there was ample time to save them but also we want to highlight the role of the training and how they volunteered. they saved the diplomats and how the sacrifice saved a lot of lives. ..
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this week, paul taylor and his latest book, "the next america" boomers, millenals and the generational showdown. the pew researcher demonstrates how demographic changes in america are likely to shape u.s. culture in the coming decades, particularly as the public becomes older. this program is an hour.
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>> paul taylor, welcome. >> guest: nice to be here. >> host: toll me about ida may fuller. >> guest: ida may fuller was never-married legal secretary from vermont. the first person ever to receive a social security check in her retirement. 1940. the day after her 65th 65th birthday. the check bore the number 00001. and it was a monthly check for a little over $22. ida was clever enough to live for another 35 years. she died at age 100. in the course of those 35 years, those checks kept coming, and at the end she had received something about -- about $23,000 over the course of her retirement. doesn't sound like much in today's dollars. but if you then look at what ida put in into the system. the system when she retired was
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these year old. what she put in and her employer put in, she got a return of 500-fold. she is the post girl for a demographic reality about social security that is very current today, which is that the system was at its best for the fir generation, very good for in the next generation, and on it goes, fast forward to 2014, it's in trouble. because back then we hat 150 workers per retieree and goes to ten to one, five to one, and by the time all of today's 65-year-olds, the famous baby-boom generation, who are crossing the threshold of age 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day, and will do so every day between now 2030, when we get to the end of
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that we have two workers for every retiree, and the math that franklin roosevelt put in place doesn't work anymore, and unfortunately we have today's young adults, the millenial generation, having trouble getting started in life because they have come of inning a hostile economy. they're paying money into a system to support a legal of benefits for today today's reres they have little chance of getting. so they're needs to be a rebalance though social compact. a very difficult challenge force this country because not is social security and medicare the biggest thing we do but it is symbolically the purest statement in public policy that as a country we're in a community in this together. these are programs that affect
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everybody, and the old math of these programs doesn't work, and if you start from ida and come to today, it's dramatic change. >> so ida got a lot moreman than she put into the system. today's baby-boomer, what's at it like for them. >> depend ifs you look at social security alone and medicare. medicare was added in 1965 by lbj. if you add those two together,ing for most of today's baby-boomers they system come out ahead. they don't get the windfall return the first generation did but they get out ahead. a concoct a baby-boomer who retires in 2014, she is dish call her jane smith. if she lives -- her actuarially allotted 20 additional years in good health she will get roughly a half million dollars in benefits from social security and medicare, and of that she and her mores over her working life -- she is is the typical -- will have paid maybe about
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380,000, and the remainder of that is going to be pick up by today's and tomorrow's taxpayers. but the trouble is, if you fast forward, not to today's 65 years but today's 45-year-old's or 25-year-olds, they are almost all of them in negative territory. they will pay more in over the course of their lifetimes than they'll get back. >> so at its heart your book is about the generational tension caused by specifically this question on entitlementment tell us about the four american generation friday our country. >> guest: i didn't start out to write a book about generational equity. i started out to write a book about demographic social and political change. i work at the pew research center. that's what we do, we do a lot of public point survey, a lot of demographers, social scientists and economists, and we look at
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trends, again, political, social, economic, and we look at them through lots of lenses, but over the decade i've been working there, looking at them through the generational lens is fashion nateing. we're in an era where the generation gap seems unusually large. america is a very dynamic society and always have younger adults who see the world different through from their parents and gpss. in this particular moment these gaps across all of mentions we're interested in, have gotten very wide. the largest of those gaps is racial and ethnic. we are now 40 or 50 years into the third great immigration wave in our done riz history. i began in the mid-60s when we opened the borders, and we closed the borders in 1920 in reaction to a big immigration
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wave. but we were ready to open them up again. what is distinct about the modern immigration, in absolute numbers, more immigrants than the two previous waves put together, although as a share of the population, still not as big. but what's really distinctive our first two immigration waves going back to the late 19th 19th and early 20th century, nine in ten of our europes were from europe. in this wave half or from latin america, 30% from asia, 10% from europe. so this wave is changing our racial complexion and makeup, and we are now a country that is on path to become majority nonwhite before the middle of this century. sometime in the earl 2040s, according to the census bureau. pretty dramatic change. so for someone my age -- i'm one of the boomers about to turn 65 this year -- i'm born into a country that is 85% white and i'm going to be looking at a country soon that's 43% white.
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it is for people my age, it is disorienting. for people, my children's and grandchildren's age, it's the only america they've known and the most natural thing in the world. this plays out in lots of ways. i start the book with a ah-ha moment on the night of president obama's re-election victory in 2012. i'm an old political reporter. i'm sort of interested in what is going to happen with election outcomes and i used to have a bad habit of trying to forecast them, and i have been as reliable as a coin flip. i was really struck on election night by the number of really smart conservative and republican political analysts, pollsters, commentators, who were flummoxed by the outcome, who really expected mitt romney to win the election, and then a lot of reason to expect. four years of a terrible economy. unemployment rates eight, nine,
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ten percent. and yet obama not only won, he actually won pretty easily. he won by five million votes, and the opening pages of the book capture the commentary of the rush limbaughs who says the white establish. is no longer a majority, and bill o'reilly, we're outnumbered. this was a moment, i think, where at least one of our great political parties realized, oops, the country that we thought we were running in, that's we thought we were win in, isn't the country that voted that day. mitt romney wound up getting 17% of the nonwhite vote. that doesn't auger well for a major political party looking at the future change of the country. you asked about the generations. so, if you sort of play this out generationally, if you start from the oldest generation, the whitest generation, the most conservative and the so-called
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silent generation, came of age in the '40s and '50s, have been conservative much of their lives. financially they're our most secure generation in a lot of the upheavals of the great recession, of five or eight years ago, they were mostly able to escape. most of them hat paid off mortgages on their homes so all that foreclosure and going underwater didn't affect them. many if not most were already retired and didn't happen jobs to lose but they're very anxious, frankly, about the changing complexion of the country. they're somewhat disorient by the digital revolution, the new ways that people communicate. the next oldest generation the boomers, in their 50s and 60s. the old is is probably now 67. they're on the cusp of retirement. they were a famous generation, my general russia, famous generation back in the '60s when they were the leaders of
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the counterculture, the women's rights, civil rights, antiwar. they were a generation known as a generation of protesters, although in truth that label never quite captured the full political breadth of the generation. the first election boomingers were able to vote was in 1972. that happened to be the first election where we lowered the voting age to 18. actually a majority of baby-boomers in that 1972 election voted for richard nixon, not his antiwar challenger. nonetheless, they a have become more conservative as they've gotten older. they're worried about their own finances as they head into retirement, and if you look at all the ways we assess whether they're ready for retirement or not, it turns out that 40% or roughly half aren't. most people say if you want to have the same lifestyle in retirement, you had in your working years you need to replace 70-80% of your income at
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the median boomers are going to be in a position to replace 55-60%. so it's not a calamity but there's a lot of nervousness. the next youngest generation is thegen-examiners in their late 30s and 40s and are worried about their retirement. they're sometimes said to be kind of the savvy entrepreneurial loners, somewhat distrustful of institutions, of government. children perhaps of the reagan revolution and the divorce revolution. the cultural messages they got as they grew up was it's a tough world out there. figure out your place in it. do what you can to make it best. and finally, the millenials, who are now in their mid-teens to early 30s. they are our largest generation numerically since the boomers. they have come into the work force and electorate with a loud noise. not quite the social protests we
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call from the boomers, but in their voting habitses, they are our most liberal generation in modern history. so three, four, now national elections in a row where they voted much more democratic than their elders. indeed the young-old voting gap today is as large as it's ever been. a lot of that is their racial and ethnic profile. four in ten of this younger generation is nonwhite, and nonwhite tend to be liberal. they tend to be believers in big government and that plays out here. they're also having a terrible time getting started in life. a lot of them, again, just as they're ready to go into the work force, the economy went into its tail spin and has not fully recovered from that. so they have some of the largest unemployment rates of any young generationing out. indeed we just put out a report earlier this month. they are the -- so far -- we took a look at the oldest of the
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millenials, mid-20s to early 30s. presumably by then they're through they're formal education, ought to be the work force and starting their lives. if you look at all indicators of economic well-being, of today's millenials and comparele them with xers or boomers in the age millenials are now, millenials are doing worse, higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of poverty. lower personal income. lower wealth. so they are in danger of becoming the first generation in modern history, perhaps in history, in our history, of doing less well in life than their parents' generation. we don't knoll how they're story end s but that's how the story is starting, and that starts to chip away at the american creed, which is the notion of ever upward generational mobility. >> host: you talk a loot about this wealth gap between the millenials and the boomers. even manifests itself in the housing bubble. can you talk about the effects
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of the housing bubble. >> guest: the story of the housing bubble is well known, and a great runup in prices in the late resident 0s and easterly you 00s, and americans looked around, for the typical american household, the value of your house i something like 75% of your total aggregate wealth. people say, i've gotten rich, and behaviors changed. people ran up a lot of debt. they used the value of their house to finance current consumption. seemed like a great idea because every year housing prices go up. isn't this wonderful? well, we know what happens with bubbles. they eventually burst. this one burst in 2006. it had a terrible effect on the rest of the economy. financial market seized up and we know the story. what is less well known is how strong an age aspect there wases. i if you think about older
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adults, by the time the bubble burst, most of them had purchased their homes at prebubble prices. they enjoyed the runup but when they crime down, they were still ahead of the game, and importantly, most of them had paid off their mortgage so they were not in danger of going under water and facing foreclosure. if you think about today's 20 years, 30 years, those who have purchased a home and many hadn't cut those who had, almost all of them purchased a home at bubble-inplated prices and then the bubble burst, they're the ones that went underwater, who faced foreclosure, and have seen their wealth, which wasn't all that high to begin with, evaporate. so one statistic from at the book. go back to 1984 and compare the wealth of all households headed by someone enough the age of 35 versus someone over the age of
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65. the gap is ten to one in favor of folks at the upper end of the age group. that makes sense. people accumulate el wealth. by 2011 it had again from ten to one to 26 to one, and my guess it has grown, almost a certainty, even more sense. so that's one of many indicators that suggests over the course of many decades now -- some driven by the housing bubble, the great recession of the last five or six years but many of the patterns are decades old, and relatively speaking, the old have been prospering relative to the young. that's not to say the older and great financial shape. there's a mix of people doing well and not doing well. today's older are doing better than yesterday's old, where today's young are doing worse than yesterday's young. >> host: so you're book, the next america, is a book about numbers which many of us are greatly appreciative for. every two or three pages there's
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a number that snaps your head back. one of them -- i think its seems frivolous, this one snapped my head back -- the numbers of tattoos. numbers have crept up. can you talk about the growth of tattoos? >> guest: we did a survey on millenials, four or five years ago, and we noticed -- it's hard not to -- that tattoos are more prevalent in the culture than they used to be. back in the day, tattoos with the body wear of sailors, hookers and strippers. they were faintly disreputable. today they're totally mainstream and especially among the young. so we found 37% of all millenials have a tattoo as compared to -- i can't remember -- five or six person in the oldest generation, and of those millenials who have a tattoo, one is often not enough. close to half have two or more. and i think something leak one in six have six or more.
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so, i think that the -- one of the points i make, and maybe it's a stretch but it seems reasonable to me -- one of the things we try to do at the pew research center is stay with the numbers, draw reasonable inferences from in the numbers and let others speculate as to what may be going on. one of the things that has been said of the mel lenal generation they're a look at me generation, and tattoos are a real world manifestation of that. what would seem to be driving that is that they are the first generation of, quote, digital native. they've grown up in a world where it's the most natural thing -- this is the way you live. you have this little thing in your hand and you click on it and it exposes you to a world of information, to you network of friends. you can take a picture of yourself and share it with your friendses, and all these things are alien to someone who is my age, but many people my age have adapted to this, and they sort of get how empowering it is, but
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what makes the millenials different, this is not something they had to adapt to. this is all nave ever known. someone described them as a pre-cap person cuss-generation. if you put up a picture of yourself and it's cool or funny, maybe more than just ten of your best friends look at it. maybe it goes viral. i picked out a story that i saw in a british newspaper, where three or four years, inflame two years ago, the most successful youtube video, which gottens a of the end of last year something-like 500 million hits -- was a video called, mikey bit my finger. and it was a video of one-year-old mikey, sitting in a high chair, being fed by his three-year-old brother, hard harry, and it's a very attractive family scene, until
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mikey bite's harry's finger, and then we watch harry dissolve into tears, and that's it. the one piece of dialogue it, ouch, and that goes for 57 seconds. but it's heart rending, and 500 million people watch it, and these young british lads now have their own fan clubs and followers and all the rest and have become celebrities. there was a sense in which to every young adult today, i can become a celebrity. the people -- the world wants to see my funny cat videos or wants to see when i jumpedded on my backyard tramp o'lean and took a nasty spill or a million other iterations of that. it gives today's young adults -- i think they've been dealt a worse handeconomically than they know because this the only hand they've ever had so when people my age say, you know, you have it pretty tough, it doesn't make
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that much sense to them. when we asked them about their economic confidence, they are the most confident of any generation. maybe this is life cycle. young adults tend to be invincible, think it's all going to work out. i think some of it -- i know we're straight far from tattoos but some is a sense, i can be the center of the universe. the world is interested in me. i can publish the story of myself and that is empoweringpog and is it an empowered generation. >> host: i have to ask how many toot tees mikey has. as the generation shifts police, which is a nice euphemism, what happens to the age structure of the american population? >> guest: well, we're getting older than we've ever been before so we will -- our median age today is something like 37. by the mid hovel the century it will be 41. that doesn't sound all that dramatic, and if we stand back we can observe around the world,
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almost every country in the world is getting older than it's ever been before, and it's a combination of two things. a combination of rising longevity in 1900, a baby born in america had an average life span of 47 years. today a baby born has an average life span of 79 years. with the middle of the century, 84 years. a lot of thoses a answerments in the first half of the 20th 20th century had to do with public health, sanitation, driving down the awe -- appallingly high death rate of infant. most of the more recent advances have to do with extending the life of older adults and some people think we ain't something nothing yet. there's a drug that's going to be invent, computer chip instant vend it. all of our bodily systems will keep going intestily. whether that's-do indefinitely.
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whether that future is utopia or nirvana, we are getting older and every country is getting older and it's a combination of longer life spans and longer life spans throughout human history beget lower fertilities rates but a in the old days people had a lot of kid because they weren't sure all of them were survive and you had kids because you needed someone to take care of you when you got older. the message now is you don't need that many kids and kids aren't expensive and that many family farms in new york city or mexico city. so birthrates have plummeted throughout the world, and there's a big debate among demographers -- most of them who got most attention who the ones who said we're headed for after overcrowded future and there will be mass staffation and it's going to be very grim -- starvation and it's going to be very grim. now there's some who believe that and some who worry about
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the sustainability of the earth's resources in a world that has today seven million inhabitantses and by the end of the century likely to have between 10 and 11 million. but understand that growth rate of 50%, and in this century is actually way down from a four--fold growth rate in the 20th century. so whether that's good or bad for humanity in the long haul, it poses challenges for countries the short haul, countries like the united states that has this large cohort of baby-boomers heading into retirement, making claims on social security and medicare, and a smaller cohort in the work force paying the taxes to support them. and the math doesn't work. now, this is a challenge. it's not an insolvable challenge. we have an unfortunately pretty dysfunctional political system right now. very hard to attack these big things. but it's an even bigger challenge in most of the world's
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other advanced countries. so we're heading for a median age of 41 by mid-century. by then, china's will be 46. it had a one-child policy for decades. now it is completely changed its age pyramid. germany's will be 51. japan's will be 53. so there are lot of the advanced economies in the world that are looking at uncharted waters in terms of relationship of older people to younger people. the challenge of society is older people developments have the energy, the ingenuity, imagine. they're wonderful, we respect them. we want them to live out their last years in dignity and above -- and all the rest but you don't want an economy, if you're looking at it from that point of view, driven by older people because you're much better off with the vitality that comes with youth. in. >> host: always sounds very dire but you book is not all doom and
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gloom. not mad max with geese-geezers. one of the upsites post great depression, it is fostered this renewed enter generational dependence simple. can you tell us about that? >> guest: one of the things the book tries to do, again, using data, is to play off the challenges in our public policy, for reengineering the social compact between young and old and that gets you to doing something about social security and medicare. and also the -- let's look at the same social compact in the confines of a family, which is in some ways is original social safety net and it's the place where the most important intergenerational exchangeses happen and have been happening since the beginning of time. and here i think you do have a pretty attractive story. again in the old days, the paradigm was that the barter between the generation was, i take care of you when you're young, you take care of me when
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i'm old, everybody wins. in the 20th century, the united states and most other advanced countries, built a public social safety net for people who are old because it was a reaction to the industrial age, which saw some people in circumstances in old age good at gaier and didn't have families that could build a floor beneath them. so when fdr pushed forward social security in the mid-1930s in the middle of a great depression but by far the poorest people in the country were old people. so the notion was, all right, we need the government to do the things that families themselves cannot do. so we built these social safety net for the old, and that relieved the burden, if you will, of young adults and middle aged adults for caring for their older parents. and everybody loved that. and if you good back 150 years, the idea of many generations living under the same roof was sort of the norm, particularly
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if you go back to egg grayan societies, family farms and all the rest. in the 20th century we moved airplane from that, and we love you, grandma, and grandpa, but we're buying a house where we can raise the kid and you visit on sundays and everybody wins. so, the number of families living many generations under the same roof went down, down, down. but around 30 years it stopped going down and for the last 30 years it has come back up, particularly came back up four our five years ago, when we got hit with the great recession, and there was a big housing component and you suddenly have millions of people losing jobs, losing homes, and there's a -- one of the most famous lines in poetry is from robert frost, which is 100 years old and has a relevant e relevance toy. home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. so, in today's economy, you now have more than 50 million americans living in multigenerational family
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households and that includes a lot of millenials who can't get started in life, includes middle aged folks who crapped. lost their job and lost their home and includes elderly parent whose can't take care of themselves. it moves in all directions but it's a story that basically says that the generations in modern america, not only aren't at each other's throats the way they were when the boomers came of age 30 or 40 years ago. they like each other, they get along well, and they believe in helping each other out. >> host: with that we'll take a break.
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>> host: paul taylor, how did you come to be so interested in demographics? >> guest: well, i'm a former newspaper reporter. i spent 25 years working at newspapers, mostly covering national politics. had a foreign assignment, great foreign assign independent south africa during its historic transition in poll ticked your interested in numbers, who votes and who doesn't. always interested in demographics as well. i started a family beat at the "washington post" 25 years ago, because i could see the structure of the family changing and was just fascinated by that. for the last ten years i've billion at the pew research center. we call ourselves a fact tank. and, again, it is social science, public opinion research, and also a lot of demographers and we tell stories with numbers. we generate our own with our own surveys, look at census data. we had a lot of very serious methodologists who understand had to find the data, understand
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how to make sure it's rigorous and high quality, and then we have story tellers like myself who try to turn the numbers into stories. what we don't do, and i miss it seems, our stories about america are told in numbers. anywhere not told with flesh and blood. i don't have any -- i concocted one prototypical boomer and there's another chapter where we actually have a real person and we gave her a different name. she is a millenial and we talk about her technical knowledge. we hope the numbers illuminate and shed light but it may not be for everybody. in that it's a little bit bloodless. there are not real living, breathing human beings, but i hope compensates for -- when we say something, we hope there's at least impair cal data that can back it up, and, therefore, it does help -- the goal of the book is to say, look, here we are at the beginning of this breathtaking new century, with
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amazing changes going on, at all realms of our life from politics to our social norms to our families, to our economics. let's look at the numbers to find out how we got here, and based on -- while the book doesn't do a lot of predicting, it does say there is parts of the future we already know. the parts that are neighborhood by the demographics and datas and it does look forward to the middle of the century. >> host: real people are totally overrated. one of most interesting sections of the book is the section about marriage. a big marriage gap has opened up in america over the last 30 years. tell us whates going on with marriage. >> guest: first of all, marriage is, quote, losing market share. go back to 1960, 72% of all adults over the age of 18 were married. today, 51% of all adults are married. that is a huge, huge change in a relative live short period of time. marriage as an institution has been around for thousands of and thousands of years.
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it's an institution that exists in almost every society, throughout all of human history, and this amount of deterioration just in loss of customers, if you will, is unprecedented. so what is going on and where is it coming from? the second thing to say is what you posed in your question. by far the biggest dropoff is at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale you. go back 40 or 50 years, and people with more education and higher incomes and people with less education and incomes married at roughly the same rates. today there's an enormous gap. and so if you try to understand where the loss of marriage is coming from, i quote an old joke about politics. it's three things... money, money, and i can't remember the third. so we ask people, adults of all ages and all income levels, and all education levels, how important is it to have a good
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financial future in order to be a good prospective husband or wife? the people who are most likely to say, it's very important, are people at the lower end of the socioeconomic stale. they aspire to marriage just like everybody else does, despite this loss of market share the overwhelming number of them say, of course i want to get married, and of course it's an important life priority. when you ask, what it takes to be a good potential partner, those with less income say it takes money. so in effect they're sifting a bar for marriage they themselves can't cross, and this has a kind of a circular effect. marriage for most of human history hat been an economic arrangement and a very successful economic arrangementment two can live more cheaply than one. you allocate labor. you have children and children help support the family, although they do cost money at the beginning of their life cycle. so if the folks at the lower end don't enter into that, they are
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deprived of the economic benefit, and one would add, i think, there's a psychological benefit. the marital commitment itself is associated with attributes associated with economic success. you have to have a new thing for compromise, constancy, for saving for tomorrow and all the rest. so, a very vivid fact of modern life is an increase in income and wealth inequality, probably driven by the changing structure of the global economy, by the digital revolution. this, then, has fed into this marriage gap as well. certainly at the lower end of the marriage marketplace there's a market mismatch. men have done less well than women adapt together the new economy. we now-in an era where nearly 60% of all undergreat wads are women. -- undergraduates are women,
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and when you ask young men and young women about their life priorities, young women are -- have higher career aspirations than do young men. these gaps are particularly notable in the minority community. marriage rates among blacks, 405 years, 60% were married. today, 30% of black adults are married. black men have head trouble -- some are doing extremely well but many are not. high levels of incarceration. something is missing in the marriage market in those communities. and in other communities of low income. so, you have cultural change being fed by economic change, and probably reinforcing the widening gap in society. >> host: you're talking about marriage becoming more offer a capstone event than cornerstone event. >> guest: yes. >> host: do we know when this shift in perception is about the function of marriage emerged? >> guest: a lot of -- i think
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the notion that marriage is a capstone event, butby which he means -- and others who have studied it, it's what you do when you have all the rest of your duckness a row. first you want to get a career, and then find a mates. i think it has been driven by the change in the economy, the decline of economic opportunity at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. so you go back 40 or 50 years, which at the high school degree, you as a young man starting out, had a reasonable prospect of getting a good job at a local factory and having a good -- reasonably steady wage and leading a middle class life. those oninto. the middle class are not as available as they used to be. our economy is like, a hour glass. a lot of low-end jobs that don't offer that much advancement and
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that much hope into a middle class lifestyle. more and more high end jobs that take high skills but fewer in between. so that more than anything is what is driving the current decline there's that longer term change in marriage which marriage scholars say go back a couple hundred years which is the notion of love and individual fulfillment as the purpose of marriage. for most of marriage's history, it was an economic arrangement. it made sense to get married. it's the best place to raise kids, and kids help secure your economic future. and it's a good way to allocate resources. sometime after the enlightenment the notion of love or companionship, lifetime soul mate comes in. when we asked today's adults what is the point of getting married? what's the most important reason to get married, love is always at the top of the list. love is a wonderful thing but it
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has introduced a kind of fragile element in the heart of this institution. divorce rates are now -- they're not quite as high as they were 20 or 30 years ago but nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. and it's not quite -- it remains to be seen whether it is as stewardy an anchor for this institution as economic self-interest has been. one of the interesting things going back to the generational component here is that the latest uptick in divorce is actually occurring among older adults. historically the marriages at greatest risk of divorce are new marriages, young marriages, particularly if you get married very young, you have a higher chance of getting divorced. today, there's been a real spike in older divorces. divorces of couples age 50 and more, sort of ex-emhe identified by two or three years ago the breakup of the 40 year marriage
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of al and tipper gore. 40 years you figure you work out the kinks. now used to be something like only one in ten divorces were among people 50 and older. now it's down to one in four. and interestingly it's the boomers who were part of the divorce revolution 30 or 40 years ago with thunder young marriage are also part of the gray divorce revolution as some people described it today. and it may not be all bad. those who say part of what is going on herer is that couples in their 50s and 60s -- they're in good health, and they look for -- there's a lot left out there for me to do and i want to do. the kids are out from underneath, in many cases a lot of them have kids who boomerang back home, and maybe the marriage has gone stale and i don't want to settle, and maybe there's something better for me. there's an interesting cultural
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debate whether divorce at the end of the day guess or bad. we asked questions of the public about this, and the terms of changing family structures the public is actually live and let live about divorce. if you ask the public, what is better, divorce is never a happy outcome but ills it better to stay in a bad marriage or to get a divorce? actually most of the public will say, listen, it was a lousy marriage, get out. the real concern among the public about the fact that so many fewer adults are married these days, has to do with the extraordinary rise in birth outside of marriage. so, again, go back 40 or too 5 years, five% of owl newborns were born to a single mom. today 41% of all newborns are born to a single mom, and on this front the american public is very concerned because they don't need the sociologists or the economists to tell them what they know in their gut is true.
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your bosh to a single parent, -- if you're borne to a single parent your changeses for have ing a happy outcome or low. there are not single moms or decides doing great straight but if you look at the numbers, correlation to being resides by a single parent and poverty and unhappy outcomes for children is high iwant to come back to divorce. since we're here on single parenthood, let's forge ahead. you're admirably respect inflame the book, as you always are at pew. you talk about bad outcomes for single parents. tell me about some of them. what are the bad outcomes. >> guest: well, i think more than half of all children in poverty today are in single parent households. so, that is the strongest correlation. there are other psychological
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correlations that i don't want to stretch my credentials on that. i'm not an expert on. but children of divorce or children who aren't razeed by both parents, there's a tendency to have a higher level of psychological problems as one is growing up. one of the demographers quote says there are lot of countries in the world marriage rates have plummeted. this is not just american. northern europe, marriage rates are lower than they are here, much lower. in northern europe, cohabitation has all but replaced marriage. it is the case that in america is unique in that the degree to which between nonmarriage and high divorce, a teenager in this country has less of a chance of being raid raised by both biological parents than any other country in the worldment the churn that child and young adult experiences may lead to difficult outcomes. i would add one more thing and i
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think it's important to keep in mine. people who have been watching this family breakup or family nonformation, unfold for the last 40 or 50 years, going back to the moynihan report which became famous or infamous, he focused on the black family. he said many of our antipoverty problems going to work. this was considered a scandal louse number back that think, the out of wed look percent in the black community is 25%, and that was a shocking that a high government official published a report that said that. today the out of wed look birth rate in the black community is 71%. hispanic community, 51%, white community, 29-30%. so there has been a sea change here. it is worth pointing out that the negative social outcomes that many people said would -- the dire consequences that would spring forth largely haven't
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happened. and if you look at most of the indicators we look at for the well-being of children, high school dropout rates, college attainment, crime, and other antisocial behaviors, in fact the lines are going in a positive direction. so that speaks to something i think a number of the parts of the book go to, which is the old family is -- the old nuclear family, the ozzie and harriet family, has not completely disappeared but has lost its cultural hoe germany. there are many family forms. from single parents, mixed race families, same-sex families, step families, many, many types, and there is in all of this amp ample cause for concern because many families are fragility bull
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that's an extraordinary amount of resilience. all americans, no matter they're circumstance, police family at the center of their life and they have kinship around whatever family they have. it works better for some than others but the fact the old form is in trouble doesn't mean that other things haven't come along and replaced them. the last thing i would say, i was totally fascinated by we now have advertisers showing family forms that would have shocked the american public ten, 20, 30 years ago. so, the ads that rain earlier this year on the olympics olympn the super bowl, are celebrating the new us, the new family, and there are images in the chevy commercial which is sort of -- this is american, apple pie. it's mixed race families. it's same-sex families. and again this goes back to generational differenceses.
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this is the new america. this is i think young adults very comfortable with this kind of -- these kind of arrange. s, older adults a little bit more concerned. >> host: we leave the topic of marriage, is marriage good for people? >> guest: yes. i can say that empirically. we asked people -- we have one of our door-opener question. the first question on our 20-mint poll just to get people warmed, is tell me how happy are you these days? are you very happy, somewhat happy or not too happy? and we have asked it many, many years and then we run fascinating correlations. what types of people say they're happy and what times of people say they're not happy? and then you can do a statistical regression to say, well, is this group happy because -- because of this demographic characteristic or that? anyway, the bottom line is poll after poll we have ever taken,
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married people are happier than unmarried people. so, discuss among yourself, is it because happy people get married or because married people get happy? and it's not -- it is probably both, as is often the case with causation and correlation and all the rest. but there's no question that, as i said earlier, marriage is associated with positive economic incomes and people who do well financially are happier than people who don't do well. so there's a sort of a multiple reinforcing sense here. >> host: this is more happy -- this is after you control for other factors, right? >> guest: that's right. again, i'm out of my realm but i know enough to talk about these things. my colleagues, my methodollist does multiple regression analysises so we look at the correlation between marriage and happiness, we control for all other factors and justify the impact of marriage on happiness, and we can say that married
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people are -- i think the figure was 12% more likely than unmarried people to be happy. well, most other things we look at -- you control for all those factors -- washes away. there are too many things that stand up to that kind of regressionment one is religiousity. people who are very religious and regular church attenders are happier than other people, all else equal. income as well. >> you have a great line, over the course of our lives we're accumulating more and more kin to whom we owe less and less. >> guest: yes. the goes back to the nuclear family. has now given way to all sorts of family steps and blended and broken and mixed, and i think it's an open question as to how well that family serves the people in it over the course of their lifestyles, and when i use
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that quote it was in the context of the boomers are now the first generation in our history to head into older age having gone through some of the turn -- turbulence in family lives, high divorce and rates and all the rest. going back to the paradigm, i take care of you when your young, you take care of me when i'm old. suppose we have a guy who fathered some children, has not been particularly involved in the lives of those children, and is now 65, 70, 75 years old and doesn't have that sort of strength of that intergenerational relationship. and he falls down and breaks his hip. and he doesn't have a 50-year-old daughter who is going to worry about him the way that he might if he were a part of her life for the first 50 years of her life. so there's a phrase, what we have now coming into old age is a higher number of, quote,
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elderly orphans who don't have those s-o-ss of intergenerational family ties and one of the things sociologiests are looking at. this is sort of needs further study. it's in that realm but an interesting development. >> host: people may not realize we're actually a more churched country than we were even tet of the founding. can you just sort of sketch out briefly for us the path of churching in america. >> guest: well, listen. religion has been part of our dna right from the beginning. that's the pilgrims came because they wanted to practice their devout but nonconfirmist brand of christianity. and our most famous early visitor who remarked in the early 19th century how devout americans were, sow seriously they took religion but didn't seem to mind if their neighbors had false versions of the faith. so we have an always devout but
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always tolerant and you see that in our founding documents. everybody has the right to pursue any religion he or she wants but the state does not have a right to impose a religion on the public as a whole. so these instincts have led to over the course of the 19th 19th century, as a young country, a settler country, we didn't have that many institutions but we built them quickly and built up a lot of religious institutions throughout the 19th and early 20th century. and we are today by far the most religious of any advanced industrialized country. a lot of people have made the argument that modernity leads to secularism, you see that certainly in europe, where you have these enormous empty cathead central, memory of the importance of religious in
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society and no longer. in america our situation is different. we remain very pluralistic. one of the things that has begun to happen and there's a chapter in the book called the rise of the nuns. >> none. >> guest: meaning what is your religion and the response to the question is, none. that doesn't mean you're athiest or agnostic but about 20% of the public now and 30% -- 33% of millenials say i have no religion. doesn't mean they're athiests oring a not stick. only a quarter of the group says that. they don't choose to be affiliated with religious denominations so they're not churched. they don't go every week. most of them believe in god. many of them sill pavement many say they're spiritual but a rising share, particularly of young adults, aren't comfortable with organized religion and that's a new trend. but it is in the context of a country in terms of religion that is always searching, always
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churning, that's always somewhat tolerant about new ways of doing its religious life. despite that trend it's not clear that religion is losing its hold on the american public. the share of americans who say they go to church every week actually hasn't moved down that much. where you really see the change is among that share of the public that has always been loosely attached to religion and now they're more willing to say no, i have no religion, whereas they may have in previous decades felt in social or other cultural pressure to say, well, yes, i'm nominally this or that. >> host: so early on in your book, you list a bun of demographic charactersics about america you. say we're going older more urn equal, more diverse, more mixed race, more digitally linked, more tolerant, less married, less fer tell, less religious, less mobile. some of this traitses are octoberstive live good.
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right? some are objectively bad. it's bad we're less mobile to what degree are all these things linked together and bound up? >> guest: well, i think to a very large degree. i think certainly the political change -- the notion of a country that polarized, you feel it -- we- live in washington. i've covered politics and public toll si most of my adult life, and most people, whatever your ideology beliefs, believe the system that gotten taxic. a lot of reasons for its but one of thrownes is what somebody called the big sort. people increasingly are living in communities that -- that reflects their own cultural or racial or ethnic identities ided economic identities and that has -- they then send to congress people who are at one pole or the other and just makes its more difficult to find the
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pragmatic middle, which is a shame because, again, we do a lot of 0 public opinion surveys about politics and, frankly, most americans, even in this age of the shout fest you see on cable tv, and in the twitter sphere and all the rest, frankly, most persons are pragmatic send tryst. they want -- centrists. they want to solve problems. tend not to be the ones you fine in the conversation. the conversation tends to favor the shouters. so the polarization clearly has influenced or politics and led to this sort of gridlock, which is so much self-reinforcing because the public is fed up with approval ratings for congress is in the pits. having said that, i would say that's the current most negative thing. clearly the economic -- the fact that economic divides are growing is a negative thing. i think these are all linked. we are in an enormousry
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heterogeneous society and the thing that makes our sowf site work is the sense there is fluidity and mobility and you can starts at the bottom and go to the top. those their rules of the game, the greatness of america. if you actually look at the numbers on that, our income gaps are wider and the ability to start at the bottom and rise to the top just empirically is smaller today in this country than in our neighbor, canada, and than it is in most of the countries of europe. that comes as a little bit of a surprise to people and it sort of goes at what we think of ourselves, the kind of society we think of ourselves. on the upside, it does seem to me that immigration has for 240 years, or most of our history, been our ace in the hole. it replenishes us. immigrants are strivers. they believe in the future. immigrants believe in hard work. immigrants tend to be religious. immigrants save for the future.
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and this country was built by immigrants and we love to tell the story of that in most of us have immigrants in our family tree, and they are wonderful stories. it is the case, however, that every immigration wave always produces a backlash, and so we glory in the immigration rates of the 19th and 20th century but if you go back then see see what people said bail the irish or poll pols or slaves, they didn't see nice things and that's a backlash against today's immigrants complicate built in fact that about a quarter have come illegally. so that is a big policy challenge...


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