Distinguished Lecture Series: Paul Taylor

May 14, 2014 – Bechtel Conference Center, Stanford University

Taylor, Paul (credit Sarah Navarro)

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor was the Center’s Distinguished Lecturer for the Academic Year 2013-14. This lecture was co-sponsored by the Center on Advancing Decision Making in Aging (CADMA) and the Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging (CDEHA).

Taylor is the executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, where he oversees demographic, social, and generational research. He is the author of See How They Run and coauthor of The Old News Versus the New News. His latest book is titled The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown (see below). He is a former reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered presidential politics and served as a foreign correspondent.

About The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown

The America of the near future will look nothing like the America of the recent past.

NextAmericaAmerica 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 Millennials — well-educated, tech savvy, underemployed twenty-somethings—are 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 40—both 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 headed — toward a future marked by the most striking social, racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.

Select Praise for the Book

“The book’s greatest strength lies in its detailed analysis of significant trends—from politics to lifestyle choices—among the four generational groups surveyed….Taylor proves a plainspoken translator of…survey data, and makes… statistical techniques accessible to the lay reader.”— Publishers Weekly

“An incisive survey of vast recent changes in American society and the ever-wider generation gap between baby boomers and millennials…. In this well-written, data-rich book, Taylor…examines the demographic, economic, social, cultural and technological changes that are reshaping the nation…. An authoritative report and required reading for policymakers.” — Kirkus

“A provocative yet balanced assessment of intergenerational relations, filled with invaluable data. Essential reading for citizens and policy-makers alike.”—Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

“An eye-opening and wonderfully written account of how swiftly our country is changing, and how we can preserve our social compact across the generational and ethnic divide. A brilliant analyst of public policy and social trends, Paul Taylor offers a hopeful look at America’s future in challenging times—studded with fact, and penetrating and revealing from page to page. The Next America is an indispensable book for anyone who wants to know where we are, and where we are going.” —Richard North Patterson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Loss of Innocence