Scripps issues report on generational influencesApr 21, 2011
Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center
has released "GenerAges: Generations as They Age," a counterpart to the
renowned Beloit College "Mindset" that examines the history and culture
of the 20th century that shaped the lives of older Americans today,
particularly those turning 65, 85 and 100 this year.
The 24-page report is packed with statistics and a narrative overview of what was then the technological revolution of the early 20th century as well as the cultural revolution of the 1960s and early 1970s that ushered in a new era of civil rights and women’s liberation and equality.
Among an assortment of other facts that frame the lifespan of seniors, are these:
- the average American life expectancy in 1930 was just short of 60 years, compared with 78 today;
- the median age of an American has increased by more than a third since 1920, from 26 to 37 today;
- while 27 percent of the American workforce was in farming in the 1920s, less than 2 percent of it is now;
- the federal minimum wage has increased from 25 cents at its inception in 1938 to $7.25;
- a pound of coffee in the 1920s went for 40 cents.
- the marriage rate that peaked at 16.4 (per-1,000 Americans) in the mid-1940s has come down to the current 7.1, while the divorce rate, which hit its high point in the early 1980s, has nearly tripled from the 1920s to 2010;
- the proportion of Americans with college degrees has grown from less than 4 percent in the 1920s to more than 25 percent today.
While “GenerAges” emphasizes the enormous amount of technological,
social and cultural change over the past century, it also stresses a
certain commonality among U.S. generations in that “each will be on the
cutting edge of fashion, technology and modern conveniences, and each
will, in turn, recede into history with relative rapidity, appearing
amusingly antiquated in the process,” and that all generations, as
evidenced by Gallup Polls through the decades, are tightly linked by
their enduring aspirations for peace and prosperity above all else.
The study is authored by Emily J. Robbins, Mike Payne, Amber Cable, Jane K. Straker, and Suzanne R. Kunkel.