There is no economic data today due to the Columbus Day observance.
So let me drop this graph of a metric I have been trying to find, of college educational attainment by age demographic, that I finally came across a couple of days ago:
It is commonplace that among Whites at least, support for Democrats is highly correlated by a college education. What is unclear is whether that is actually a function of education itself, or is simply confounded by age group.
The above graph shows are a steady rise in the percentage of both men and women with college degrees over the past 80 years. But we know that the strongest support for the GOP, and for Trump in particular, is in the age cohort of younger Boomers and the first half of Gen X, roughly birth years 1960-1970. That equates with college degrees being granted about 20 years later, from 1980 to 1990 or so.
Yet there is no notable exception in the growth of the percent of college-educated persons during the 1980s. That strongly suggests that it was the condition of the economy in particular during the 1970s and 1980s that led to such strong GOP identification among that age group, rather than their educational attainment.
I still haven’t found any good information that provides cross-tabs on both educational attainment and age group, to more specifically sort out the strongest correlation. So for now, this will have to do.
What is that chart you posted? It looks like percentage of population, by sex, with a college degree. You’d have to do some modeling and make some assumptions to turn it into an age cross section.
The census has 2019 educational attainment by roughly five year buckets. This gives a snapshot, but it ignores the longer life spans correlated with getting a college degree. See:
There are also time series that might be useful at:
I think there is a big story to be written about the baby busters. Even back in the 1970s, there was a line between the early, say pre-1956, baby boomers and those born later. The National Lampoon used to joke about it. If you were born earlier, there were lots of jobs and all sorts of goodies, but if you were born later, you were slaving to get by. Now, social workers are familiar with this split. So many homeless and marginal sorts are late wave boomers.
Maybe the story is about the 1970s. Everyone looks back and wonders what the big deal was, aside from the horrors of disco. I’m seeing all sorts of articles arguing that the oil supply shocks were no big deal, but having lived through the era, that seems like saying that the attack on Pearl Harbor was no big deal as it barely damaged the harbor.
There was a global shock in the 1970s. I’m not sure if it was about energy or demographics. The early boomers were established by the time the 70s really started to bite. Meanwhile, the USSR stopped making a profit on its imperial holdings in eastern Europe. Was it the oil subsidies? Was it just too many people of the wrong age or who didn’t remember World War II?
Turchin would argue that World War II knocked out a good number of the elites and changed the resource to population ratio. We had the “golden era” with rapid population and economic growth, but elite competition started to intensify in the 1970s. Now we’re stuck with a pattern of bad and worse elites running things until the whole thing collapses. Maybe we can do better if we can understand the 1970s better.
kaleberg – I would have thought the big and obvious change was the pill. The pill made a massive difference to all sorts of things, in particular it meant the end of (or rather massive reduction in) teenage marriages and a fall in birth rates.
Oh – and I forgot that the other thing that happened was that the first lot of baby boomers entered the work force. So you had more women working AND more job starters, i.e. a massive increase in the workforce.
I lived in South Bend, IN from 1961-2018. The area had been shaken by the sudden end of the Studebaker Corp. and related businesses in the 1960s. These closures were brutal for the community, especially in the blue collar neighborhoods. The indifference of management (or alleged mismanagement) toward the unemployed, the lack of new opportunities and the attitude that one had to pull up and move produced a time of poor morale and indifference toward work. The downtown area went thru a hasty and reactionary ’redevelopment’ that only hastened the retail flight to the
suburban shopping centers.
The cool American cars of the previous decades turned into cheesy, sloppily-made, plasticized rattle-traps. Many of the buildings, malls and strip malls that were built in the 70s are already torn down, they were so poorly constructed. I think, it was partly a morale problem. And there was definitely an attitude of entitlement forming. (“They don’t pay me enough to care.”)
I agree with the previous statement; that the Boomer generation (I arrived in 1953, both my siblings were born in the 40s) is fractured. The household that my siblings were born into was different from what I took for granted in the 50s. And the households from the 60s were different still. I am in complete agreement about the jobs and opportunities changing radically during the 20 year Boomer span.
My older siblings were educated in eastern states for most of their public school years. I spent most of my school years in South Bend. Huge difference. My education was watered-down compared to theirs. They were average students in the eastern school rating system, then got top grades after moving to South Bend. I have read that the American school system changed the overall system of teaching in the 50s. A pity.
I figure the Boomers will be called the Rag-Tag generation.
The first humans to spend our lifetimes in front of a television and under the specter of the nuclear bomb. The first to walk around with music in our hands, thanks to the transistor radio. We were also sold a whole bunch of bullshit about this little country in Southeast Asia that the politicos still haven’t been able to justify getting involved in and murdering 56,000 US citizens for. Every question about this little ‘Military Action’ seems to end with: and then the defense industry started taking economic and political control. Covertly, of course. We Boomers did what we were told and got slapped for it. We lived at breakneck speed to cover all the bases, got the kids raised and the parents cared for until their end, and it still feels inadequate.
Also happened in the 1970s: watching the oil cartel politically crucify Carter. That sure didn’t help American morale either. And the televised Hostage Countdown started the germ of 24/7/365 #newsnetworks that are now highly effective (sadly, REALLY PEOPLE?) propaganda machines.
The Environmental Protection legislation was coming. Wages and inflation were high. Not a great time for business expansion in our country. And, of course, the escalation of prohibitions really started to kick in once the drugs for weapons trade got established (thankyouuuu slimeballs!). The Pence family abandoned their chain of gas stations—leaving IN with the bill of clearing out all their nasty oil tanks they left in situ. Whoever buys a site, has to pay to clear any environmental hazard prior to constructing a project…Thankyooooo Pence, for the superfund valentines your family left your oh-so valued constituents (*spitting sound following a retching noise*).
Lousy cars, ugly buildings, cheap strip malls, justajobs, butt-ugly fashions and disco music: wow. Why weren’t suicide statistics higher?
Oh, that’s where the availability of birth control kicks in. Also, tuition at IUSB: $32/credit hour. Apartment rents: $75-150/month. My health insurance? I was covered under a blanket IU student policy for $30/semester. Sigh.
I’ve given up television. Stopped having the stomach to watch it when I left South Bend in ‘18. I doubt if I will watch it again unless I’m strapped to a wheelchair and forced to by indifferent nursing home staff.
I never stopped subscribing to newspapers—even lousy ones. Or magazines. And now I’m devoting hours every day to these e-letters and blogs—WRITTEN ONLY. Ranting podcasters give me a headache because, well, talk is cheap and my time is becoming more valuable.
End prohibitions. Especially the one about no money for sex. Create new revenue streams with the legalization and medical application of narcotics, and end the escalating violence associated with them. I’ve long thought America loses so much entrepreneurial and executive-level talent to gangs and the streets.
Prohibition keeps power concentrated in very few well-armed hands. Legalization opens up big ag markets. No-brainer. Unless you are the one earning big bucks off of running a for-profit prison.
Totally went off subject here, but needed to get the plug in.
Call it the Cynical 70s.
PS: Thank you Mayer Pete for keeping South Bend in the news. It is a good sized-town with a solid historical relevance. It suffered the expansion of industrial construction in the last century because it had to grow.
The old crumbling and rusting infrastructure is being redeveloped now with more human activity in mind. It upsets the geezers but is bringing interest and activity regularly to the inner city. Big issues with the neighborhoods: the reckless real estate practice in the 90s of qualifying people for home ownership who, couldn’t really afford it and also, didn’t know how or care to keep a home up hurt the older housing stock that needed more expensive care. South Bend has lost a lot of residences over this. It will be interesting to see how they continue to fight to grow and redefine their interpretations of community.
All of the above and yet more.
The oil shock began with a supply shock that morphed into a price shock. Meanwhile increasingly cost effective technology was replacing labor with everything from Ditch Witches to mainframes. The growing deployment of minicomputers touched business processes in all but the smallest ma and pa shops.
So, the net was quite a few more good paying jobs in tech from small engine mechanics and machine operators to computer programmers alongside a lot fewer moderate paying jobs in simple bookkeeping and billing, some less good paying jobs in corporate general and tax accounting, and way fewer modest paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, landscaping, and public utilities installation.
IOW, it was shocking to labor and gainful to capital.