Posts tagged with ‘demographics’
We experience cultural continuity with our parents’ and our children’s generations. Even when we don’t see eye to eye with our parents on political questions or we sigh in despair about our kids’ fashion sense or taste in music, we generally have a handle on what makes them tick. But a human lifetime seldom spans more than three generations, and the sliding window of one’s generation screens out that which came before and that which comes after; they lie outside our personal experience. We fool ourselves into thinking that our national culture is static and slow-moving, that we are the inheritors of a rich tradition. But if we could go back three or four generations, we would find ourselves surrounded by aliens — people for whom a North Atlantic crossing by sail was as slow and risky as a mission to Mars, people who took it for granted that some races were naturally inferior and that women were too emotionally unstable to be allowed to vote. The bedrock of our cultural tradition is actually quicksand. We reject many of our ancestors’ cherished beliefs and conveniently forget others, not realizing that, in turn, our grandchildren may do the same to ours.
Let’s focus on the next three generations and try to discern some patterns.
Generation X’s parents, the baby boomers, grew up in the 1950s. It was not unusual to expect to work in the same job for life. They seldom traveled internationally because it was expensive and slow, and their cultural environment was predominantly defined by their nationality — an extraordinary international incursion such as the arrival of Beatlemania in the 1960s was shocking precisely because it was so unusual.
With few exceptions, Generation X never had the job for life. Members of the generation are used to nomadic employment, hire-and-fire, right-to-work laws, the whole nine yards of organized-labor deracination. But they also grew up in the age of cheap jet travel, on a globe shrunk so small that 48 hours and two weeks’ average wages could take you to the antipodes. (In 1813, you could pay two weeks’ average wages and take 48 hours to travel 100 to 200 miles by stagecoach. In 2013, that can take you from Maryland to Hong Kong — and then on to Moscow.)
Generation Y’s parents are Generation X. Generation Y comprises the folks who serve your coffee in Starbucks and build software at Google. Generation Y has never thought of jobs as permanent things. Most Generation Y folks will stare at you blankly if you talk about loyalty to one’s employer; the old feudal arrangement (“we’ll give you a job for life and look after you as long as you look out for the Organization”) is something their grandparents ranted about, but it’s about as real to them as the divine right of kings. Employers like Google or Facebook that provide good working conditions are the exception, not the rule. Employers are alien hive-mind colony intelligences that will fuck you over for the bottom line on the quarterly balance sheet. They’ll give you a laptop and tell you to hot-desk or work at home so that they can save money on office floor space and furniture. They’ll dangle the offer of a permanent job over your head but keep you on a zero-hours contract for as long as is convenient.
On the other hand: Generation Y has grown up in a world where travel is cheap and communication is nearly free. Their cultural zeitgeist is less parochial than that of their grandparents, more global, infused with Japanese anime and Swedish heavy metal, as well as local media produce. This is the world they grew up in: This is the world that defines their expectations.
The problem is, you can’t run a national security organization if you can’t rely on the loyalty of the majority of your workers — both to the organization and to the state it serves. At one time, continuity of employment meant that the agencies at least knew their people, but there is now an emerging need to security-clear vast numbers of temporary and transient workers with no intrinsic sense of loyalty to the organization.
The NSA and its fellow swimmers in the acronym soup of the intelligence-industrial complex are increasingly dependent on nomadic contractor employees and increasingly subject to staff churn. Security clearance is carried out wholesale by other contractor organizations that specialize in human resource management, but even they are subject to the same problem: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Charles Stross, Spy Kids
Charles Stross is the author of masterworks of sci fi like Accelerando, and he thinks like a futurist. Here his ruminations about the rapidly shifting work compact between the intelligence services and its workers in an increasingly Benthamite surveillance state is dark and dead on.
The labor force has been radically restructured (by the Boomers, not insignificantly) so that we work, when we can find work at all, longer hours for less money with no job security. How does one save up for a car or mortgage down payment on the kind of salaries most people who weren’t born into wealth earn in their 20s? How are young people expected to make a 5 year auto loan commitment (or 30 for a mortgage) when their employment is “at will” or when people spend years working as “permanent temps”? As I’ve said before, even the people in my age group I know personally who are doing well – and as someone with full-time employment and health insurance, I consider myself fortunate to be in that group – have tremendous insecurity about the future. In other words, even those of us who might be able to afford a new car now refuse to buy simply because we don’t know if our job will still exist (or who will be doing it) in a couple of years.
It is amusing to see how far analysts and journalists will go to avoid grappling with the relatively obvious fact that young people aren’t buying what they’re “supposed to” be buying because we, as an economy, are not paying them much. Or employing them at all. Or giving them any kind of long-term security necessary to induce them to make financial commitments to homes, cars, or other expensive purchases. This kind of denial of the obvious is becoming a trademark of Boomer-led journalism and financial analysis, the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the failure of consumers to rescue the economy by buying the things they’re supposed to be buying. Yet rarely do they consider the simplest solution, that younger people do not make these kinds of economic commitments because this society is now structured to make doing so impossible. God help the auto industry when this wave of retirees dies out.
Elizabeth Rosenthal, The End Of Car Culture
Has America passed peak driving?
The United States, with its broad expanses and suburban ideals, had long been one of the world’s prime car cultures. It is the birthplace of the Model T; the home of Detroit; the place where Wilson Pickett immortalized “Mustang Sally” and the Beach Boys, “Little Deuce Coupe.”
But America’s love affair with its vehicles seems to be cooling. When adjusted for population growth, the number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and dropped steadily thereafter, according to an analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, an investment research company. As of April 2013, the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak and equal to where the country was in January 1995. Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. The next few years will be telling.
“What most intrigues me is that rates of car ownership per household and per person started to come down two to three years before the downturn,” said Michael Sivak, who studies the trend and who is a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. “I think that means something more fundamental is going on.”
The car is the cigarette of the future. — Jaime Lerner via
How can we tell that the car is dying? The age group most likely to buy a car today is the 55 to 64 age group.
The Great Senior Sell-Off Could Cause the Next Housing Crisis - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities →
This scenario won’t happen, because the urban flip-flop is already in progress, but read it anyway:
According to data from the American Housing Survey, from 1989 and 2009, 80 percent of new homes built in that era were detached single-family homes. A third of them were larger than 2,500 square feet. And most startling – “I checked my numbers over and over again,” a bemused Nelson says – 40 percent were built on lots of half an acre to 10 acres in size. Now, he says, 74 percent of new housing demand will come from the people who bought these homes, now empty-nesters, wanting to downsize.
A vast majority of today’s households with children still want such houses, Nelson says. But about a quarter of them want something else, like condos and urban townhouses. That demand “used to be almost zero percent, and if it’s now 25 percent,” Nelson says, “that’s a small share of the market but a huge shift in the market.” And this is half of the reason why many baby boomers may not find buyers for their homes. “Even if the numbers matched,” Nelson says, “the preferences don’t.”
Demographics will further complicate this picture. We’re moving toward a future in America when minorities will become the majority. But given entrenched educational achievement gaps, particularly for the fast-growing Hispanic population, Nelson fears that the U.S. is not doing a good job educating the “new majority” to make the kinds of incomes that will be required to buy the homes we’ve already built.
As the Hispanic population expands, and more baby boomers retire, the gap between the two groups in the housing market – expressed in unsellable houses – will only widen.
“That’s going to hit us,” Nelson says. “Not right now. But my guess is that about the turn of the decade, that number will become a real number. It’s only a few percentage points now, but it’s like a glacier, and if it keeps moving and building and growing, it’s going to be a big number in about 2020.”
Roughly 7 percent of over-65 households move each year, and as people get older, their likelihood of moving from owning to renting gets higher and higher (it’s about 79 percent for households over 85). By 2020, there were will be around 35 million over-65 households in the U.S. That year, Nelson calculates, seniors who would like to become renters will be trying to sell about 200,000 more owner-occupied homes than there will be new households entering the market to buy them. By 2030, that figure could rise to half a million housing units a year.
“Between changing preferences and declining median household income because of poor education – because we’re not willing to spend money on education,” Nelson says, “that means we can predict the next housing crash, and that’ll be in about 2020.”
In that environment, he says, there will be two classes of seniors in America: those “aging in place” voluntarily, and those “aging in place” involuntarily because they can’t sell their homes. Nelson is critical that “aging in place” will really be feasible for many seniors.
“It’s romantic for the first 15 years when you’re turning 65 and retired,” he says. “But aging in place among 90-year-olds? 95-year-olds?” Many of these people, he predicts, won’t realize that they can’t mow the lawn or pay for repairs until they’re really elderly, and the market for the their homes has collapsed even further. “My suspicion,” Nelson says, “is that many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of those households in the 2020s to 2030 and beyond will simply give up the house and walk away.”
Why won’t this happen? We’re undergoing a huge urban flip-flop. Empty nesters and hipsters are moving into the city core, displacing the urban poor. Those former city dwellers are moving to the near suburbs, and Exurbia is emptying out.
Rather than a straight drop in the next decade we’ll see a downward slide of exurban populations, and a demographic switch in core cities and near suburbs.
The wealthy seniors will have moved to hacked office buildings in the former financial district, the hipsters will live in the lofts of what was once Chinatown, and the poor oldsters will live across the river in what used to be the prosperous commuter town, now with aging strip malls turned into old age communities, and unwalkable neighborhoods populated with immigrants waiting at bus stops to commute to hotel and restaurant jobs in the city. Out in the former exurban fringe, back-to-the-landers are building a circle of farms, and growing produce, cattle, chicken, and goats, turning abandoned car dealerships into greenhouses and Dairy Queens into barns.
I no longer have a landline. In fact, I haven’t for years, and that means I am part of a growing segment of the US population, and one with interesting political impact. It turns out that cell-only Americans are more likely to be, according to John Harwood’s inquiry in today’s NY Times,
disproportionately urban, African-American, on either the high or low end of the economic ladder, and Democratic.
And, as this ‘telographic’ group grows (yes, I said telographic), most of the conventional polls are under-representing them, as the NY Times piece shows:
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, and Peter Hart, his Democratic counterpart, who conduct the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, proved the point in their latest poll, conducted July 18-22, when they increased the proportion of respondents who rely exclusively on cellphones to 30 percent from 25 percent. To home in on them, the pollsters ended calls answered on cellphones if the respondents said they also had land lines.
Their findings affirmed arguments that “cell only” Americans have significantly different, and more Democratic, political views than those with land lines. Over all, the poll showedMr. Obama leading Mr. Romney by 49 percent to 43 percent — providing a confidence-boosting talking point for Democrats and provoking sharp criticism from Republicans.
Scott Rasmussen, who owns an independent polling firm, approaches the “cell only” problem differently, as he must by law. His Rasmussen Reports conducts surveys through automated dialing, which under Federal Communications Commission rules is permitted for land lines but not cellphones.
So in Mr. Rasmussen’s polls, online interviews account for 15 percent to 20 percent of each survey, which he figures helps him reach the same kinds of voters, especially younger ones, in the “cell only” category. The result he reported the morning of July 25, a few hours after the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was released, was strikingly different: Mr. Romney had 47 percent, and Mr. Obama 44 percent.
So, with around 1/3 of the population without landlines, I bet that there is a skew in the polls. On the other hand, it’s known that older folks — with land lines — are more likely to actually vote in elections. Still, we have to take these polls with a large grain of salt, obviously.
I recently posts some data from the Pew folks on Twitter use:
Perhaps most intriguing is the demographic gap: 25% of African-Americans and 19% of Hispanics use the service, compared with 9% of Non-Hispanic Whites. Perhaps linked to the use of entertainment and cultural leaders?
A not particularly insightful observation, which was pounced on by Gbattle:
Stowe, that’s a correlated explanation, but not a causal one. Let’s go deeper.
The real explanation is as historical as the results are pervasive. African Americans and Hispanics have always over-indexed in terms of Twitter usage, or any usage primarily driven by mobile devices (see PEW’s research study regarding SMS usage). It’s not simply over-indexing by percentage of DAUs/MAUs for the demographic, but there’s been reports that African Americans account for 25% of all U.S. Tweets in terms of volume while being only 13% of the population. This last fact can be seen anecdotally when witnessing the pervasive number of urban themed hashtag memes.
As I’ve said previously, Twitter is the black 4chan.
Why? Entertainers and cultural leaders are the effect, but not the cause. We have to go back to the 80s & 90s, back to the earliest phases of the consumer facing web and the so-called “digital divide” between white and African American/Hispanic communities in terms of computer/internet adoption. The problem with the digital divide argument is that it wasn’t inclusive of all digital usage and only measured computer usage. Urban communities have smaller homes, with apartments that might accommodate but one computer. If present, that computer, typically, would be in a public area of the home - a family room, a living room - thus all usage would be “public.” However, at the time, most of the internet’s usage growth occurred in private, where people tried on identities, utilized pseudonyms, connected with strangers, consumed the unthinkable, and engaged in fantasies in a world that began and ended at the dial tone.***
Beepers, Motorola 2-Ways, Sidekicks, Blackberrys and now smartphones bridged this privacy gap, allowing urbanites to enjoy in device driven fantasy. It’s from this you get beeper codes, technology as fashion accessory, and friend/follower accumulation as proxy for social proof. If it worked for suburban doctors, it also worked for the urban street pharmacists and those who postured as either one. Overlay the ostentatious, aspirational, entrepreneurial and self-promotional culture of hip-hop and you create a gigantic viral loop from the bedroom to the streets to the clubs to the small and big screens propelling mobile technology to iconic status in black America. Clearly, when Twitter hit in 2006/2007, you have an entire community predisposed and trained on short form communication for nearly twenty years. Though there was a lag, the real African American usage on Twitter took off in 2008/2009 with the native Blackberry applications that were always ad-supported as hip-hop culture is synonymous with embedded brand messaging.
So, the dirty secret of the mobile phone and app industry is that African Americans (and Hispanics, females, and southerners demographically according to PEW) are a leading indicator for mainstreaming mobile social features. There’s a reason why carriers created AMP’d and Boost Mobile instead of Skinny Jeans or Fixie+Facial Hair Mobile - historical content consumption/generation patterns, embedded knowledge, and fertile established viral graphs.
Go read the whole thing.
Lauren Indvik via Mashable
Thirteen percent of online Americans use Twitter, up a full 5% from November 2010, according to a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday.
Much of that growth came from younger adults, Pew found. Nearly one in five U.S. Internet users ages 25 to 34 use Twitter, up from 9% in November. Fourteen percent of users between 35 and 44 also now use the service, up from 8% a half-year previous.
But Twitter isn’t exclusively the domain of young adults; 8% of participants between 50 to 64 and 6% over the age of 65 consider themselves Twitter users, respectively.
Perhaps most intriguing is the demographic gap: 25% of African-Americans and 19% of Hispanics use the service, compared with 9% of Non-Hispanic Whites. Perhaps linked to the use of entertainment and cultural leaders?
I pulled some data from a presentation from the K5 Learning Blog. Kids today are amazingly connected, but less involved in the physical world:
- More US kids aged 2-5 can play a computer game than ride a bike.
- 19% of kids aged 2-5 know how to play a smartphone app; 9% know how to tie their shoelaces.
- More kids aged 2-5 can open a browser than swim unaided.
- Kids aged 0-8 spend an average of 1 hour 44 minutes watching TV or video daily, 29 minutes reading, 29 minutes listening to music, 25 minutes playing computer or video games, and 5 minutes using new mobile devices.
- Kids aged 8-18 spend 7 hours 38 minutes using entertainment media daily: more than 53 hours per week. That’s an hour more than 2004 (6 hours 30 minutes). Because they multitask [non-rivalrous media] they pack 10 hours 45 minutes into those 7 hours and 38 minutes.
- 65% of kids aged 0-8 watch TV at least once per day. That’s 37% of kids aged 0-1, 73% of kids aged 2-4, and 72% of kids aged 5-8.
- Kids under 2 spend twice as much time watching TV and videos than being read to (1 hour 54 minutes versus 53 minutes per day).
- For kids aged 8-18, live TV consumption declined by 25 minutes from 2004 to 2009, but total TV consumption went up thanks to the Internet, cell phones, and iPods. 59% (2 hours 39 minutes) consisted of watching live TV, and 41% (1 hour 50 minutes) consisted of time-shifted TV, DVDs, online, or mobile.
- 53% of kids aged 2-4 have used a computer, 90% of kids aged 5-8 have.
- 25% of kids are going online daily by age 3, 50% by age 5.
- Cell ownership among kids 8-18 rose from 39% in 2004 to 65% in 2009.
- 7-12th graders spend an average 1 hour 35 minutes per day sending and receiving texts.
- 51% of kids aged 0-8 have played a console game, 81% of kids aged 5-8. 17% of kids aged 5-8 play console games at least once a day, 36% play then at least once per week.
- 27% of kids aged 2-5 screen time is used with new digital devices.
- 29% of parents have downloaded apps for their kids aged 2-5 to use.
- iPod ownership for kids aged 8-18 rose from 18% in 2004 to 76% in 2009.
- 23% of kids aged 0-8 watch educational TV shows, 8% use educational programs on the computer, 7% play education games on new mobile devices.
sources: AVG (2010), Kaiser Family Foundation (2010), Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2011), Sesame Workshop (2010), Common Media Research (2011)
It’s a pile of data and no analysis, aside from the implied negatives of kids not knowing how to ride bikes, swim, or tie their shoelaces, or their sketchy parents downloading apps for them but not reading to them as much as they might.
- More Kids Sleep With TV, Study Finds (blogs.wsj.com)
Leslie Norton, Rapidly Growing Cities Adopt Smart Technology
A serious demographic break between the under 25s and the overs. Although I can’t understand the issue with texting while eating, aside from the question of eating with others.
I wonder what people text while having sex? Is it about the sex or some random other stuff?