"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 Union is 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 Trends focuses 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 Trends examines 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 Union will 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.
REYNOLDS FARLEY is professor of sociology at the University of Michigan and research scientist in its Population Studies Center.
CONTRIBUTORS: Suzanne Bianchi, John D. Kasarda, Frank Levy, Robert D. Mare, Dowell Myers, James R. Wetzel, Jennifer R. Wolch.
A Volume in the RSF Census Series