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State of the Union

State of the Union: America in the 1990s, Volume 1: Economic Trends

Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    State of the Union
    Book Description:

    "The Census is a most valuable source of information about our lives; these volumes make the story it has to tell accessible to all who want to know." -Lee Rainwater, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

    "A lucid and balanced overview of major trends in the United States and essential reading for policymakers.State of the Unionis a reality check that provides the factual basis for policy analysis."-Peter Gottschalk, Boston College

    State of the Union: America in the 1990s is the definitive new installment to the United States Census Series, carrying forward a tradition of census-based reports on American society that began with the 1930 Census. These two volumes offer a systematic, authoritative, and concise interpretation of what the 1990 Census reveals about the American people today.

    Volume One: Economic Trendsfocuses on the schism between the wealthy and the poor that intensified in the 1980s as wages went up for highly educated persons but fell for those with less than a college degree. This gap was reflected geographically, as industries continued their migration from crumbling inner cities to booming edge cities, often leaving behind an impoverished minority population. Young male workers lost ground in the 1980s, but women made substantial strides, dramatically reducing the gender gap in earnings. The amount of family income devoted to housing rose over the decade, but while housing quality improved for wealthy, older Americans, it declined for younger, poorer families.Volume Two: Social Trendsexamines the striking changes in American families and the rapid shifts in our racial and ethnic composition. Americans are marrying much later and divorcing more often, and increasing numbers of unmarried women are giving birth. These shifts have placed a growing proportion of children at risk of poverty. In glaring contrast, the elderly were the only group to make gains in the 1980s, and are now healthier and more prosperous than ever before. The concentrated immigration of Asians and Latinos to a few states and cities created extraordinary pockets of diversity within the population.

    Throughout the 1990s, the nation will debate questions about the state of the nation and the policies that should be adopted to address changing conditions. Will continued technological change lead to even more economic polarization? Will education become an increasingly important factor in determining earnings potential? Did new immigrants stimulate the economy or take jobs away from American-born workers? Will we be able to support the rapidly growing population of older retirees?State of the Unionwill help us to answer these questions and better understand how well the nation is adapting to the pervasive social and economic transformations of our era.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-196-4
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    Censuses have been taken throughout recorded history, primarily to calculate how many men could be mobilized for battle or how much property could be taxed. The gospel of Luke tells us that Christ was born in Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed that all be enrolled and taxed in their home cities. Just after invading England, the Normans carried out a census, henceforth referred to as the Domesday Book, which told them whom they conquered and where they might find tax revenue. Censuses taken in the United States serve purposes other than those of Moses or the Normans. With great ingenuity,...

  6. 1 Incomes and Income Inequality
    (pp. 1-58)

    Two major economic goals of an industrialized nation are rising earnings and increased income equality.¹ In terms of growth and equality, U.S. economic history since World War II divides into four economic periods:

    The first quarter-century—1947–1973—saw rapid earnings growth and moderating income inequality.

    From 1974 through 1979, earnings growth slowed to the point of stagnation (though living standards continued to rise)² while income inequality grew slightly.

    From 1980 through 1989,averageearnings continued to stagnate, but income inequality increased sharply. Inequality increased along most dimensions except gender, and the majority of changes worked against the less-educated workers....

  7. 2 Labor Force, Unemployment, and Earnings
    (pp. 59-106)

    Shortly after the 1980 census, national media attention centered briefly on the cheerful, 83-year-old innkeeper of the Spirit Lake Lodge. Living hard abreast the northern slope of Mount St. Helens, Harry Truman earned his 15 minutes of fame by steadfastly ignoring the rumbling signals of geophysical change deep below the mountain. On May 18, 1980, at 12:32 p.m., the signals of change gave way to a full-scale volcanic eruption. Within moments, Harry Truman and the Spirit Lake Lodge were swept into oblivion. Just as Mount St. Helens loomed above Harry Truman’s inn, the nation’s economy looms above our everyday lives....

  8. 3 Changing Economic Roles of Women and Men
    (pp. 107-154)

    A chapter on gender roles written in the 1950s would have focused on differences in men’s and women’s family and labor market roles and whether such specialization was essential for societal well-being.¹ A chapter on gender roles written in the 1990s of necessity must focus on the issue of economic equality between women and men. The fundamental gender question of the past two decades, rising in part out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the renewed women’s movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, has been: How equal are economic opportunities and outcomes for women and men...

  9. 4 Changes in Educational Attainment and School Enrollment
    (pp. 155-214)

    Education plays many roles in American society. Schools are supposed to teach skills and knowledge as well as attitudes, values, and behaviors and to ready all students to be effective workers, parents, citizens, and consumers. But schools also play a big part in determining who is economically successful and who is not. Young persons pass through school and acquire not only skills and knowledge, but also degrees and certificates that are recognized in the world of work. People vary greatly in how long they stay in school, in what they learn there, and in the credentials that they accrue. Depending...

  10. 5 Industrial Restructuring and the Changing Location of Jobs
    (pp. 215-268)

    America’s industrial geography is constantly changing. New locations of employment routinely rise while others decline as (1) transportation and communication technologies advance; (2) modes of goods processing and services transform; (3) labor and natural resource requirements of business change; (4) federal, state, and local policies play out; and (5) global competition becomes more pervasive. The local supply of jobs, in turn, either facilitates or constrains employment opportunities for residents and their social mobility (Cisneros 1993; Peterson and Vroman 1992; Wilson 1987).

    This chapter examines the transforming industrial geography of the United States and its implications for employment and earnings of...

  11. 6 The Polarization of Housing Status
    (pp. 269-334)

    Housing as shelter is as basic to human survival as food and clothing. However, housing is much more than mere shelter from the elements, because it interacts with our social and economic lives in many ways. As an economic commodity, housing consumes the greatest single share of the average American’s income; among homeowners, it also has come to represent the largest component of wealth. The type of housing one lives in and its very address signify a person’s economic and social status more prominently than any other indicator.

    Housing also represents the arena for family life and the staging ground...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 335-356)
  13. Name Index
    (pp. 357-362)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 363-375)