Study suggests Millennials see diversity as “different experiences”

A recent study looked at how Millennials approach diversity:

Millennials seem to be tilting toward that latter, more easily attainable vision. A recent study from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, found that when it comes to defining diversity, rather than focusing on demographic features, such as race, or gender, Millennials—those born roughly between 1980 and 2000—are more concerned with hiring those who may have different cognitive viewpoints due to growing up in a different part of the country, or attending a different type of school. Differences in race or gender can play a role in those differing viewpoints, but they may not be singled out as important diversifying characteristics. “Diversity means to me your background based on your previous work experience, where you were born and raised, and any unique factors that contribute to your personality and behavior,” said one Millennial who was surveyed.

This is a departure from what older generations understand diversity to mean. “Millennials frame diversity as a means to a business outcome, which is in stark contrast to older generations that view diversity through the lens of morality (the right thing to do), compliance, and equality,” the study of more than 3,700 individuals spanning different generations, races, and genders found. According to Christie Smith, one of the study’s authors, this generation is already comfortable with the idea of diversity in a traditional sense and they’re looking to expand the definition, which could be a good thing…

Millennials are the most diverse group of young adults the nation has seen. And for some, that may mean that the idea of diversity, at least when it comes to race and ethnicity, feels like a given. Though inequalities that have existed for generations persist, some Millennials might think of them as less of a problem. But research, and current events, would show that may not be the case. “We live in a more diverse world in a superficial sense,” Wingfield says. “When we think about where we live, where we go to school, where we work, that type of diversity hasn’t really happened yet.” That creates a gap between perception and reality she says. “Millennials have this reputation for having adopted this more progressive, forward-thinking viewpoint—at the same time, a lot of the institutions that structure their lives really haven’t changed so much.”

This could turn out to be diversity based on individualism and personal identity as opposed to any large-scale understanding of how different social markers, such as race, class, or gender, contribute to different life chances. And the broader data in the United States continues to suggest that those broader social forces still have a large impact on people’s lives.

Signs of the “demographic train wreck” in retirement colonies in Florida

One commentator suggests the expansion of retirement in Florida hints at larger demographic changes in the United States:

“There is a demographic train wreck coming that we are not really addressing nationally or in Florida,” says Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness.Over the next 20 years, the number of adults over 62 in the U.S. will double to 80 million, as the largest generation in American history retires. A demographic model that once looked like a pyramid, with a relatively small number of seniors with lots of younger people to support them, now more closely resembles a bobble-head doll. Right now in the U.S., four working age adults support each retiree. In 20 years, that ratio will slip to three to one nationally — and two to one in Florida…

Yet after years of stagnant population growth, Florida is adding new residents again, especially in those areas where it is growing gray. According to projections from Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, more than half of the five million migrants expected to flow into the state over the next 18 years will be 60 or older. This elderly population boom, fueled by the retirement of the Baby Boomers, the biggest generation in U.S. history, will profoundly change the face of Florida from a state that is simply very old, to a state with one of the oldest populations on the planet.

If it seems like there are a lot of wrinkled faces crowding the aisles at the Publix grocery store in Boca Raton now, just wait. By 2030, one in four Floridians will be older than 65, up from one in six today, with the 85-plus set the fastest-growing group, according to projections…

“Basically you are asking a bunch of old retired rich white people to vote for school bonds that benefit immigrant Latino kids,” says Jennifer Hochschild, a Harvard University professor who studies the intersection of politics, immigration and education. “This is a potential political disaster.”

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Currently, it sounds like developers have figured out there is quite a market for such retirement communities. I have wondered why these haven’t seem to have caught on in the same scalein more northern, even considering the weather.

Should retirees have the right or make the possibly wrong choice for the larger society by moving into more isolated communities of people their own age? I’m sure there are class and race differences present here as well – not everyone has the resources to move to Florida in their golden years. What happens when all of these older residents can no longer live in these communities and require more care?

Naperville: best place to protest in DuPage County?

On Saturday, there was a march in downtown Naperville to honor Trayvon Martin:

More than 130 people walked through downtown Naperville on Saturday to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., in late February.

But they also wanted to give notice that racism cannot be tolerated.

“We’re walking for Trayvon and everybody who’s been a victim of violence,” said Kelly Ingram, of Naperville, who helped organize the rally and a one-mile walk…

Word of the Naperville event circulated via Facebook and other social media…

Naperville’s nearby carillon tolled as the racially diverse crowd gathered under bright blue skies at Centennial Beach on West Jackson Avenue. Many wore hoodies, as Martin had when he was slain.

Considering the vocal discussion of and reactions to this case, I’m not surprised. But I was interested to see that this took place in downtown Naperville. This march comes not long after an Occupy Naperville group met in and marched in downtown Naperville. Why all this activity in Naperville and not in other suburban communities? I think there are two big reasons for this:

1. Naperville has a thriving downtown. Thus, a protest group is going to be seen by a decent number of people who happen to be in Naperville for shopping, eating, walking about the Riverwalk, or going to the library. Just standing on one of the busier street corners, like Main and Jefferson, is going to draw attention. In contrast, many suburban communities don’t have this kind of well-populated public space. While other suburbs may have quaint downtowns or thriving strip malls and/or shopping areas, these places aren’t going to have the same kind of foot traffic as downtown Naperville.

2. Naperville is a wealthy, mainly white, and fairly conservative/Republican community so protesters may believe protesting about issues such as race and class will particularly cause a stir. In this line of reasoning, having a protest in Aurora or Elgin or Joliet or Oak Park or another large suburb might not be so appealing as compared to going to Naperville and pushing the envelope further.

Let’s say that from this point forward Naperville does continue to draw protesters who are attracted by a popular downtown and a wealthy community: how will Naperville respond?

Limited American meritocracy and the importance of a college education

A foundational cultural value in America is that residents should have equal opportunities and that if people work hard and grasp these opportunities, they will be able to get ahead. But academics have suggested for decades that while this might sound good, real chances to move up the social ladder are more limited. Some recent data suggests this is indeed the case: compared to other industrialized nations, being born into a poor American family is more limiting.

Among children born into low-income households, more than two-thirds grow up to earn a below-average income, and only 6% make it all the way up the ladder into the affluent top one-fifth of income earners, according to a study by economists at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

We think of America as a land of opportunity, but other countries appear to offer more upward mobility. Children born into poverty in Canada, Britain, Germany or France have a statistically better chance of reaching the top than poor kids do in the United States.

What’s gone wrong? Thanks to globalization, the economy is producing high-income jobs for the educated and low-income jobs for the uneducated — but few middle-income jobs for workers with high school diplomas…And Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam argues that thanks partly to the rise of two-income households, intermarriage between rich and poor has declined, choking off another historical upward path for the underprivileged.

“We’re becoming two societies, two Americas,” Putnam told me recently. “There’s a deepening class divide that shows up in many places. It’s not just a matter of income. Education is becoming the key discriminant in American life. Family structure is part of it too.”

Increasingly, college-educated Americans live in a different country from those who never made it out of high school.

This article only mentions a small bit of data and it would be interesting to see the mobility rates for all Americans.

But these findings present Americans with a contradiction: we talk about social mobility but reality is a lot harsher. What often happens is that certain cases of people who “made it” are trumpeted and held up as examples when really those people were exceptions rather than the rule.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers lays this out in a simple way: those born into more privileged positions accumulate advantages over time. One of these advantages in America today is a college education. For many in the middle and upper classes, college is a foregone conclusion: a young child is expected to accomplish this goal. But to get to this point, middle and upper class children have more financial resources, better schools, better health and nutrition, parental support (“concerted cultivation”), and more.

This gap between the college educated and those with less than a college education is an important one to watch in the coming decades.