Celebrating Diversity: Highlights from “The Next America” report from Pew Research

There’s no doubt America is changing. We’re becoming majority non-white at the same time a record number of people are going gray. Pew Research’s new book The Next America draws on research “to paint a data-rich portrait of the many ways our nation is changing and the challenges we face in the decades ahead.” 

As you’ll see below, the older and younger generations tend to not think alike or vote alike, so how will America continue to modernize while sustaining its population and programs?

Some of the highlights from the report on how America is changing and what they mean:

1. By 2060, we will have almost as many Americans over age 85 as under age 5 (click to tweet). This is the result of longer life spans and lower birthrates. What does that mean?

+ sustainability of the earth’s resources
– political and economic stress in the shorter term
– small groups of working age adults will be hard-pressed to finance the retirements of larger groups of older ones.

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2. By 2060, the population of America will be only 43% white. In 1960, it was 85% white. We will be 13% black, 31% hispanic and 8% asian. What does that mean?

+ more multicultural families
+ a more diverse population
+ celebration of diversity, the new normal, in advertising and campaigns (see CokeCheerios and Honey Maid)

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3. Today, nearly 1/6 of newlyweds marry across racial or ethnic lines. What does that mean?

+ more diverse families
+ conversations around the fact that do our racial categories still make sense?

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4. Millennials today (aged 18-33) are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation America has ever seen (click to tweet). 4/10 are non-white!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.19.23 PMOur generalizations:

  • Political and social liberal.
  • Social media wizards.
  • Highly educated.
  • Not very religious.
  • Slow to marry and have kids.
  • Saddled with college debt and lousy jobs.
  • Dogged optimists.
  • Believe their own best days are ahead – and so are America’s.


5. In the most recent elections, the young/old partisan voting gap has been the biggest since the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1972. We have a voting gap! I think it’s a good thing.

  • 6/10 young voters supported Barack Obama in his re-election bid in 2012
  • 47% of 45 to 64 voters supported Obama
  • 44% of 65 and older supported Obama.
  • 6/10 white voters supported Republican candidate Mitt Romney
  • More than 9/10 black voters supported Obama.
  • Obama also captured more than 70% of the Asian-American and Hispanic vote

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6. Millenials represent a more liberal youth and are strong supporters of a more activist government. 68% of millennials favor same-sex marriage, compared with just 48% of Baby Boomers and just 38% of the Silent Generation. Almost 75% of millennials believe marijuana should be made legal. What does that mean?

+ shifts are being made toward equality
+ we will see a shift toward decriminalization of marijuana
+ politicians and local government leaders will begin to change stances
– or + young voters HAVE to show up to vote to change things
– or + there is a real generational gap on social issues
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7.  “The cost of programs for seniors will soon exceed half of the federal budget. This spending continues to crowd out budgeting for education, research and infrastructure – investments that would help build a better future for Millennials and their children.”

  • 10,000 Baby Boomers will be going on Social Security and Medicare every single day between now and 2030.


  • We are paying taxes to support a level of benefits for today’s older people, something we don’t have a realistic chance of receiving when we become old (at this rate).


In conclusion:

We have some issues and we have some things to talk about as a country. 50 million+ are living in multi-generational family households, their fortunes braided together.

“If Americans can bring to the public square the same genius for generational interdependence they bring to their family lives, the politics of these issues will become less toxic and the policy choices less forbidding.”

We know America has changed and will continue to change, and next we have to make sure our policies, programs and attitudes reflect the same change so we all pave the way for a better America tomorrow.

*All stats and quotes from The Next America online report found here. Read the full report for more data.

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