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Saturday, 19 November 2011

pew research on generations

in september and October 2011the pew research centre undertook two surveys in the usa of some 4.400 adults (over 18) with the results being weighted to represent the population at large giving the results an error rate of some 5% to 10%.  as always question wording and survey practicalities can introduce error or bias into findings.  the questions asked were trying to determine differences in attitudes between the generations on a variety of subjects.  the report is here and below is a summary picking out issues that interested me.

generation x
baby boomers
1981 to 1993
1965 to 1980
1946 to 1982
1928 to 1945
turned 18 &
1999 to 2011
1983 tp 1998
1964 to 1982
1946 to 1963
presidents then
clinton, bush
reagan, george h.w. bush, clinton
johnson, nixon, ford, carter, reagan
truman, eisenhower, kennedy
age now
18 to 30
31 to 46
47 to 65
66 to 83
non-hispanic white
of registered voters
with at least 1 immigrant parent

married between 18 & 30
favour gay marriage
completely agree with interracial dating
unaffiliated with any particular religion
usa =’s greatest country in the world

millennials   consistently liberal views on many social, governmental and foreign policy issues and so support more activist government. the racial factor mutes rather than explains away the ideological and partisan gaps between them and older voters.  well acquainted with changing racial and attitude face of usa and overwhelmingly think these changes are good for the country despite experiencing high rates of unemployment.  voted for obama two to one in 2008 but now less politically engaged.

generation x   the in-between generation that represent the dividing line on many issues between young and old so not as democratic and liberal as the millennials but more liberal than older voters.  more likely than older generations to favor gay marriage and marijuana  legalization, and far more comfortable with the social diversity of 21st century smerica.    have grown more critical of government over the last decade an so less supportive of larger government.  since 2009 have had a sharp drop in financial satisfaction and jobs are their number one voting issue.  they are increasingly anxious over their financial futures and retirement.  older Xers tend to vote more republican, younger Xers vote more democratic.

baby boomers    on most social issues opinions generally fall between the silents and the younger age cohorts and many express reservations about the changing face of america.   In their 20s and 30s they were more supportive of big government but starting in the 1980s were increasingly drawn to the republicans and so favour smaller government.  express almost as much frustration with government as the silents.  particularly concerned about their own financial future  with uncertainty about retirement security leading to many planning to delay retirement.  oppose cutting entitlement benefits in order to reduce the budget deficit and are also part of a multi-generational majority that supports reducing social security and medicare benefits for seniors with higher incomes.  However, unlike silents they oppose raising the eligibility age for social security.  and Medicare.older boomers (1st voted 1968 to 1972 in the nixon elections) are somewhat more democratic than younger boomers (who came of age under ford, carter and reagan.  nearly half say life in U.S. has gotten worse since the 1960s.

silent   conservative views on government and society for most of their lives and so back 
smaller government .  once one of the most democratic generations but now the most republican.  more uncomfortable than younger people with many social changes, including racial diversity, intermarriage and homosexuality.   more likely to rate social security as top voting issue and favor republicans on most issues, but evenly divided on which party can better handle social security.  angry or frustrated with government  but this is not economically based.  the most politically energized generation.  more likely than younger generations to take the view that the usa is the greatest nation in the world yet fewer older than young people think “america’s best days are ahead of us.” 

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