Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Taylor, P., (2014). The next America: boomers, millennials, and the looming generational showdown.

For the first time in its recent history, America faces the prospect of intergenerational conflict. The affluent baby boomers self-indulgent, easy going, and the beneficiaries of the greatest welfare program in American history are bankrupting the young, the Millennials. Young and old in America are poles apart and the breadth of today’s chasm is unprecedented. By 2030, America’s age pyramid the relationship between the number of working Americans asked to support retirees will take on a shape it’s never been before. Is there a great Battle of the Ages looming on our horizon?

(1) Taylor, P., (2014). The next America: boomers, millennials, and the looming generational showdown. (28 minutes)

(2) watch 2:15–1:30 – Presentation of Survey Findings (14 minutes)

read (1) Wasserman, A. (2005) Scenarios and Personas in Human-Centered Innovation skim (2) Family of you skim (3) WBCSD “Who are the sustainable consumers in 2050”

step 1a: Brainstorm a plan for your persona family, what alternative future are they situated in?


Book Discussion on The Next America (46 minutes)

Paul Taylor talked about his book, The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, in which he draws on data from the Pew Research Center to tell readers where the U.S. has been and where it’s likely to go in coming decades, given numerous social and economic shifts since the mid 20th century. He spoke with with Jane Hirt, Chicago Tribune vice president and managing editor, and was introduced by Chicago Tribune standards editor Margaret Holt.

This event took place in the north auditorium of Jones College Prep High School at the 2014 Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest.


other resources

Watch 10:30–11:45 – Panel 1: Family and Society (75 minutes)
America’s young and old differ in their social values, their racial and ethnic identities, and their economic prospects. How are these gaps transforming our livelihoods, our families and our communities?

  • Neil Howe, economist, Historian and Co-author of Millennials Rising
  • Abby Huntsman, co-host, MSNBC’s “The Cycle”
  • Alicia Menendez, anchor, Fusion
  • Michelle Singletary, personal finance columnist, The Washington Post
  • Brad Wilcox, director, National Marriage Project and visiting scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Watch Panel 2: Politics and Policy (57 minutes)
In the last two presidential elections, generational differences have mattered more than they have in decades. Is the generational gap in politics here to stay? And what does it mean for the policy landscape?

  • Bill McInturff, partner and co-founder, Public Opinion Strategies
  • Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director, Young Invincibles
  • Neera Tanden, president, Center for American Progress
  • Debra Whitman, executive vice president, policy, strategy and international affairs, AARP

10 thoughts on “Wednesday, September 24, 2014

  1. In my opinion, the most striking thing about the Taylor (2014) video was the age group “age pyramids” he showed for the population of older adults in comparison to younger adults: the movement from a “pyramid” shape to “rectangle” and “trapezoid” shapes (demonstrating the increasing population of older adults) resonated with processes I thought about in my A1 assignment (the rising population of older people in the US), and Taylor (2014) notes that this population change will impact the lives of younger adults in 2060.

    I was also interested in the Doherty (2014) video where he described how once liberal Baby Boomers became more conservative as they got older and how this throws into question the trajectory of Millenials’ now liberal political views.


  2. I found the demographic shift described by Taylor fascinating, denoting that very soon we will no longer have a 43% white majority. I am also curious about how we will be defining ourselves in regards to race as we become a interracial society. More and more we are becoming a mixed society and not defined by one race, like our current president.

    The age pyramid scenarios also provide an interesting perspective into the future, with developed nations like the US, Japan and Germany having a population that is no longer a pyramid but more rectangle in shape. How will we adapt as a society to this new reality? How will we support the elderly population?

    Finally, I found the description of the millenial generation very interesting, seeing as it is my own. We are connected, digital natives, slow to reach life milestones, and are having children when not married. In addition, it’s more difficult for us to get employment than it was for our parents. We are also becoming a part of a knowledge based economy, where work opportunities are dependent on if you have a college education. It will be interesting to see how this new generation leads us into the future.


  3. I thought it was interesting how Taylor was saying they don’t see any inter-generational conflict. To read stuff about generations on the internet (say,, you’d think every Boomer thinks their kids are lazy tech-addled wastrels, and every Millennial thinks their parents are the ones who drained the coffers and screwed them. (maybe I should just read less internet.)

    Also, “percentage of people who vote republican vs. democrat” tends to come up a lot. I’m reading The Big Sort by Bill Bishop right now, and that measure is his main data point. It’s only once every four years, depends on a lot of other stuff, and only tends to swing a bit – like 60/40 is a huge shift. I feel like there’s too much reading into it. I guess it’s just one measure out of many. Okay.

    Okay, one actual question: in the Family of You reading, why did they pick environmental sustainability and health/wellness for their two axes, and give everyone a score based on that? Was that just what they were interested in?


  4. I thought the trends in each generation were really interesting. It reminded me of the part in the Wasserman article where he talked about creating personas for very specific members of a group, how that was sometimes more effective than understanding the “center,” but I think in the case of generations it’s almost surprising how accurate some of these “trends” are. I found myself thinking about the characteristics of the millennial that also describe myself. It is interesting to think about how these trends will affect the future, like in the relationship with other generations. I think economics is a prevalent topic among millennials as I frequently hear people talking about the high rate of debt and student loans, but at the same time it is still something I don’t think I understand the full impact of. In the video, Taylor talked about the knowledge economy and how the gap between the high and low-educated is growing wider because of the bad economy – and I think that is quite evident in my surroundings. Coming from a prestigious university and seeing everybody I know find employment despite the supposed economic hardships millennials face is pretty demonstrative of that fact. On a broader note, thinking about these trends remind me once again how small of a bubble I live in everyday.


  5. I find Taylor’s lecture fairly offensive. He overwhelmingly discusses racial diversity (and same-sex partnerships) as if they have appeared out of nowhere. He makes absolutely no mention of the fact that those of color were oppressed to the point of their existence being reduced or completely ignored. He ignores the fact that homosexuality has been around, and only now can you come into the open with it and (in most places) not get killed for it. He basically discusses America as this all-white nation that has undergone this massive transformation. We haven’t. We just started treating people like people. Yes, immigration is rising, but it’s not as significant as his connotations imply. Taylor speaks from the viewpoint of an oblivious older straight white male, and how HIS world has been changed. Even if you overlook how insulting his point of view is, it’s also simply incorrect. A transformation in social tolerance is completely different than a transformation in social construction. I believe that this distinction drastically changes any conclusions you may make about the rest of the data he presents. However, I will give him a few points for acknowledging the differences in the millennial age group: higher unemployment, student loans, etc.


  6. I really did not find Taylor’s lecture to be all that surprising. I feel that I have known for a while what the trend was in my generation not feeling secure financially, having higher student loans, more trouble finding jobs, and more likely to get married later on. I think these are things that not only have been discussed as I was entering college, but I have seen them already in the lives of my older cousins. I find it odd when people get married young and I believe there is a good amount of my generation who agrees. I think it is because we have been brought up differently. As children, we did not witness a controversial or draft inducing war. We were present for “the war on terrorism”, but I feel that it was different because the attack began on our soil and there wasn’t as obvious opposition to it. In addition, we have grown up with technology that has inspired us to follow unconventional routes that don’t lead to financial success quickly. I think this accounts for just some of the differences between my generation and the older generation. The one thing I did find interesting was how the age distribution is changing and how fertility is becoming an issue.


  7. I found Taylor’s speech very eye opening. When I did the first assignment, I was aware of the aging population issue and hoe Japan uses robot technology to aid the aged. However, with Taylor’s speech, it was very interesting to see how the demographics, especially the population and race has changed over time. It’s interesting to see how he categorized the people as being millenials, generation x, baby boomers and the silent generation. I found it very interesting to think about how these different people will survive and respond to changes in the different alternative scenarios that I provided in the first assignment.


  8. I found Taylor’s speech to be very interesting. The changing nature of the distribution scheme for age in the United States was very revealing. It seems to me that a rising retirement age is a necessity when half the population is over 85. The changing nature of race in the United States was unbelievable. As someone stated above, what does it mean for a race to be a majority, when in fact they are a minority. How will people classify themselves in the future? It seems like life is going to be full of hard work for us millennials in the future. This hard work might be the stimulus needed to spark a clash between generations. This clash will be centered on the pressure millennials face to support the generation above them when they can barely support themselves.

    An interesting point made about our generation is our current difficulties economically. These difficulties, I would argue, are a direct consequence of the massive student loan debt that college students carry now. This student loan debt is the byproduct of a systematic shift in employment opportunities from manufacturing to service. When all jobs require a college education, a college education becomes a life necessity leading to demand for that product to skyrocket concluding with a crazy price for education. It will be interesting to see the ripples of the millennial’s slow start economically on the global economy.


  9. Taylor’s Speech was definitely intriguing. It seems that our generation must overcome the hurdles of the economy and work to bridge the gap that is forming between the rich and the poor when it comes to education. Also it is important to note the change in demographics of the people over time. By analyzing these trends, I believe we can have a more powerful understanding of how the economic and race distribution will be in the future and track the different groups,”baby-boomer, millenials, etc.” in the future.


  10. Understanding the resources and the types of the consumers, I began to gain awareness of what type of consumer I am. As a person in society, I could taken on the role of a nurturer, steward, legacy builder, pleasure seeker or even an escapist. The moment I realize that I could potentially be an escapist, I step and wonder who is producing and contributing. Looking into the char of the sustainable consumer/ lifestyle definition, I can tell that those who are optimists and campaigners are the main contributors to the society. They are those who are engaged and responsible and is highest in engagement. The two types of contributor have either a rational demonstration or an emotional involvement. If I was to set into the shoes of the campaigners, I would then have the benefit of communicating and speaking of the clear ideals to move people towards change with factual background. Optimists generally speak to motivate and stir up feelings to collect the emotion attachment of followers. Down the chart, these leaders build up the collective individual. However, the society will always have those who lack engagement.

    I feel that this read for the sustainable consumer really brings awareness to how healthy an individual is to the society. There needs to be a balance of home, body, family, communication, community, work, learning, play, entertainment and mobility.


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