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 Millennialswell-educated, tech savvy, underemployed
twenty-somethingsare 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
40both 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
headedtoward a future marked by the most striking social,
racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.