Monday, February 27, 2012

The New Normal // 15% of Marriages Now Interracial, 50% of New Mothers Unmarried & Internet Access Surging for All

 Enter the United States of Benetton

Maryland Juice loves using demographic trendlines to project policy changes and predict political shifts. Here are a few new hints of the new normal -- most being driven by people from my generation or younger. These new studies point to an increasingly connected, global citizenry and large shifts in the format of family-life and politics in America:
  • 15 % of New Marriages are from Interracial Couples
  • A Majority of Mothers Under 30 are Unmarried
  • 35-49-Year-Olds Are Biggest Blog & Social Networking Users

    15% of New Marriages are Interracial: A new Pew study circulating this month details America's rapid embrace of interracial marriages:
    Marriage across racial and ethnic lines continues to be on the rise in the United States. The share of new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity increased to 15.1 % in 2010, and the share of all current marriages that are either interracial or interethnic has reached an all-time high of 8.4%.

    In 1980, just 3% of all marriages and less than 7% of all new marriages were across racial or ethnic lines. Both of those shares have more than doubled in the past three decades....

    Just as intermarriage has become more common, public attitudes have become more accepting. More than four-in-ten (43%) Americans say that more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society, while only about one-in-ten think it is a change for the worse.

    Read the full report for detailed results on these findings.

    A Majority of New Mothers Under 30 are Unmarried: The New York Times recently highlighted a quiet shift in the American family that has seemingly gone unnoticed. With all of the rightwing hysteria about same-sex marriage ruining the "traditional family" in America -- Maryland Juice would like to point out that family norms changed long ago -- probably when the divorce rate crawled over the 50% line. The result has been that my generation and those younger will continue to redefine the family for years to come. Policy will have to catch up to the shift:
    It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

    Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

    Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change....

    The recent rise in single motherhood has set off few alarms, unlike in past eras. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a United States senator from New York, reported in 1965 that a quarter of black children were born outside marriage — and warned of a “tangle of pathology” — he set off a bitter debate.

    By the mid-1990s, such figures looked quaint: a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, largely blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41 percent — and 53 percent for children born to women under 30, according to Child Trends, which analyzed 2009 data from the National Center for Health Statistics....

    Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together.

    The Internet Is Everywhere: A new Nielson study shows the rapid growth in Internet usage, and its increasingly important role in society:
    A look at the bigger picture suggests that Internet access is becoming ubiquitous. About 274 million Americans have Internet access in their homes, at work or outside the home, at coffee shops, for example. That's more than double the 132 million who had such access in 2000....

    Other findings:
    • Generation X slightly nudges out the younger Gen C netizens on social networks, blogs and online video. Those ages 35-49 make up 28% of social networks and blog visitors and online video watchers, while the 18-34 age group comes in next, making up 27%.
    • Whites make up 61% of smartphone owners and 60% of tablet owners. Hispanics make up the next largest group of smartphone (17%) and tablet ownership (15%), followed by African Americans and Asian Americans. African Americans, who make up 12% of smartphone owners and 11% of tablet owners, "are among the few groups who actually use the phones for talking," Subramanyam says. "Their actual talk minutes are higher than other groups."
    • Hispanics and Asians, both growing population groups, are likely to access the Web on mobile devices rather than on home computers, she says. "That is going to start to impact everything over the next few years...."
    The Federal Communications Commission, noting that 100 million Americans don't have high-speed Internet service at home, is concerned about the possibility of a digital elite that could have societal consequences. "We can't afford to have a third of the country left out of the broadband economy. Getting online is a necessity, not a convenience," Chairman Julius Genachowski says.

    A Few Rapid Conclusions from Maryland Juice:
    • Interracial Couples & Families May Become a Unique and Large Political Demographic
    • Universal Childcare = Next Frontier in Women's Rights // Plus, New Protections for Domestic Partners Needed
    • Free Internet Access & Information Infrastructure is Critical for Communities // Gov't Needs to Plug In More Aggressively & Embrace Dynamic & Multifaceted Outreach Methods

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