Certain demographic transformations now underway are poised to change the nature of human communities and how they function. These trends are vital context for reporting and research of all kinds.
Human societies are in constant flux, of course, with characteristics such as age, family size, education and employment shifting with the passage of time. For example, during the Great Depression the fertility rate in the United States was approximately 2.2 children per woman; by 1960 it topped out at 3.6, marking the peak of the baby boom, then fell to 1.8 per woman during the depths of the 1970s energy crisis. Now, as baby boomers age, their retirement has significant effects on Social Security, Medicare and society as a whole. As birth and immigration patterns change, so too does the country’s ethnic makeup: In July 2011, for the first time, the majority of children born in the U.S. were nonwhite, a step toward a “majority-minority” America.
All of these factors have downstream effects, from the country’s economic direction, who its elected representatives are, how people are educated and more. Curated below are research talks that can bring you up to speed on a variety of salient trends affecting the United States — and the world:
“The Demographic Transformation of the United States.” Alan Berube, a senior fellow and deputy director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, talks about the growing diversity of U.S. metropolitan areas, population aging and more. The video presents findings from the organization’s “State of Metropolitan America” report.
“State of Race 2013: Presentation on the Demographics of Race.” Paul Taylor, Executive Vice-President and Director of the Social and Demographic Trends Project at the Pew Research Center, looks at the sweeping ethnic, cultural and racial trends that are set to define American life in the coming years.
“Distilled Demographics: Urbanization.” Carl Haub, senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, discusses humanity’s increasing urbanization and what effects this will have on society as a whole. The video is one of 11 in the “Distilled Demographics” series, each one covering a question such as aging, birthrates and more.
“The U.S. Aging Population as an Economic Growth Driver for Global Competitiveness.” In a talk for the Council on Foreign Relations, Joseph F. Coughlin, director of MIT’s Age Lab, and Kelly Michel, senior vice president of Aegon USA, discuss how the economy will be affected by aging populations in the developed world. Coughlin is the author of “Innovations in Health, Wellness and Aging-in-place,” which describes an integrated approach for translating inventions into innovations to help people throughout their lives.