May 10, 2015

Broken homes epidemic reversed since the '90s babies?

Now that the data from the 2014 General Social Survey are online, we can look into some other trends that were too hazy to study before. The sample size of Millennials used to be too small, but now with another wave of the survey including them, they can be better investigated.

One thing I've been wondering about for awhile is if the children of divorce are sticking together when they themselves became parents, or if they're just going to perpetuate a climate of broken homes.

In an earlier post, I looked at the trend by birth cohort. Growing up without both parents became more common starting with people born in the late 1950s, and only grew more and more prevalent with each cohort afterward, right up through those born in the late 1980s. The sample size was too small for '90s births to see whether it continued or reversed.

Now that there is a large enough sample size, though, it looks like the trend did reverse. I grouped respondents into five-year age cohorts, and no matter how you move that five-year window around, those born in the early-mid-'90s were more likely be living with both parents at age 16. The difference is only a few percentage points, but that's still remarkable considering that every previous cohort since the late Boomers showed a steady and notable decline of growing up in an intact family.

These results showed through for whites, blacks, and "other" races. Race could not have anything to do with the overall results anyway, since more recent cohorts are blacker and Mexican-er, and those groups have higher rates of broken homes than whites do. Simple demographic projections would have predicted a steady decline, but it looks like the return toward the bi-parental household succeeded in spite of racial demographic trends against it. It is therefore like the falling rates of violent and property crimes over the past 20-25 years, despite a blacker and browner population.

The reversal also held for upper, middle, and lower classes (I used number of years of education as a proxy), although it was stronger and came somewhat earlier for those higher up on the social pyramid. This is unlike the pattern that Charles Murray details in Coming Apart, where for example the lower class continues to get divorced at higher rates over time, while the upper class has returned to marital normalcy after the initial perturbation back in the '70s.

This makes me doubt the earlier explanation I gave that linked broken homes to the status-striving and inequality cycle -- things that have steadily gotten worse since sometime in the '70s or early '80s.

If the first cohort to be struck by the broken homes epidemic was born in the late '50s, and the direction began to reverse with the cohort born in the early '90s, that suggests a link to the cocooning-and-crime cycle. Being a child of divorce became more common among those who were small children during the rising-crime period of circa 1960 to 1990. If you were a little kid during a falling-crime period -- most Silents and Boomers, who grew up in the Midcentury, and later the '90s babies -- you were more and more likely to grow up in an intact family.

One effect of a rising-crime climate is giving less weight to the future and living more in the now -- not surprising when rising crime rates make a safe and secure future look less and less likely. This is a "facultative" response, one that responds to current conditions. If those conditions are present long enough over time, people will evolve an "obligate" response: their discounting of the future becomes more wired-in where the environment is violently unstable.

So perhaps the parents splitting up and telling their kids good luck was part of the greater pattern of impulsiveness or discounting of the future. Abortion rates took off until circa 1990 as well -- hard to think of a more callous attitude toward your child's future than that.

Once the crime rate started falling in the '90s, parents projected a safer and more secure future, and began weighing the future more heavily. As one sign, they became less likely to opt for abortion or divorce as a solution to the "don't feel like raising kids" problem.

GSS variables: family16, cohort, educ, race

39 comments:

  1. It was in the early 90's that we saw Gen X-ers (everyone else too, but less pronounced with earlier generations since they were too old/set in their ways by 1990) act like a bunch of angsty whiners. Sure, they could be self conscious and cautious in the 80's but it got ridiculous in the 90's. And unfortunately, this 90's imprinting is so heavy that late X-ers (and perhaps early Millennials) are going to be affected by it their whole lives.

    Around the dawn of an outgoing age (by 2030 and perhaps several years earlier), this neurotic and superficially responsible culture (yeah, it's really responsible to refuse to allow kids to grow up) is going to go rapidly out of date. By 1970 people were in a much different state of mind and heart than they were in the mid century It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To era.

    Right now though, we're still ensconced in the shower 3 times a day/keep your hair flat and short/wear bike helmets era. We wonder how people could feel so blase about the disorder and risk taking of the 70's/80's. But it's because people just accepted the possibility that you could be quickly snuffed out. So why worry so much about the future? And more boldness wasn't such a bad thing; there was greater individuality and less group think in the 70's/80's when people were more willing to rock the boat.

    The current PC/safety excesses (there's a kid alone, call CPS) in which everyone is constantly watching their tongue and nervous about society's disapproval is not terribly different than the commie and puritanical witch hunts of the 40's/50's. Though of course, people were more modest about policing back then than they are now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The intact family rate/low violence era also rather neatly parallels sociopath tendencies. People born from about 1935-1955 seem to have been more likely to be serial killers, gangsters, con artists etc.

    Perhaps getting scuffed up by a tough environment strengthens our bonds with peers and allows for development of empathy. Those who grew up in the thick of it in the 70's and 80's (people born from about 1966-1980) will probably be the most compassionate. I wonder too if that group is the most physically well developed but then again testosterone levels have been falling since the early 80's. But judging from late 80's/early 90's movies/music videos, early-mid Gen X-ers do look robust.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hard to say. I'm not so sure that people in rising-crime don't plan for the future, its more that they're more likely to admit that they don't know where they're going(since a more outgoing environment causes people to act more sincere). Whereas, cocooners may make more delusional, unrealistic plans - especially in status-striving, when there's pressure to come up with a phony identity.

    Likewise, maybe the divorce rate rose from 1960-1990 because people interacted with their spouse more, and realized they didn't get along. Cocooning hides potential problems and flaws in a marriage, since spouses only talk to each other and engage in activities together infrequently.

    I like to think that cocooning has no benefits at all. It ameliorates divorce because people don't realize that a bad marriage is a bad marriage to begin with. Cocooning just papers over the negative reality - not a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It doesn't seem as if cocooners plan more, they just are in more of a state of delusion so they create unrealistic plans. We know the joke about the young person who one day thinks he's going to be a CIA agent, the next day a famous film director.

    In the long run, those in rising-crime times probably more realistically, since they are saner and more in touch with reality. You can plan far into the future but also be in the moment, using your vision as a guide rather than a rigid blueprint. And, as I said, rising-crime makes people more sincere, so they're more inclined to admit that they just haven't figured things out yet.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "People born from about 1935-1955 seem to have been more likely to be serial killers, gangsters, con artists etc."

    Plus, cocooning itself seems to reward sociopathic behavior. When everyone is isolated and apathetic, the bad guys can get away with a lot. One reason why crime falls during cocooning, may be that the bad elements become integrated into society and are allowed to be successful. When people become outgoing, they are forced into the light, and exposed.

    I am not so sure how much the Silent Generation did become criminals. I believe that the wild generations like the Boomers and the Disco Generation are more likely to commit all different types of crimes than the more cocooned generations.



    ReplyDelete
  6. Speaking of the CIA and paranoia/delusion, there was an overblown fear of commies in the US gov. in the 30's-50's. But when people relaxed in the 70's/80's, we were still able to nail spies and double agents.

    During a wilder period, it seems more likely that people will get involved in espionage. But because people are more sensible and engaged with others in an outgoing period, we're better able to detect people who just don't seem right. See also the lack of gay lead actors in the 70's/80's.

    Delusion and paranoia is going to be more common when we just don't grasp other people.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A LOT of serial killers were born in the 30's and early 40's. Striking considering how few people were born back then.

    I once looked at the birth date on a long list of serial killers. Quite a few Silents.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This isn't being done in a vacuum. While the country is getting browner, total fertility rate is not changing, which means groups that were less ...um... choosey about becoming parents have started exercising more discretion.

    The current PC/safety excesses (there's a kid alone, call CPS) in which everyone is constantly watching their tongue and nervous about society's disapproval

    I think this really does have a large part to do with technology making the cost of being a busybody low. If you are at the park with your kids and see unattended children in the mid 90s you likely didn't have a cell phone and even if you did, 311/911 didn't dump you to the geolocated police department so you had to have the actual number, which you couldn't just do a google search for. At which point it is just easier to assume they are okay.

    Example. O'Hare airport just created a web app or some such to make a 1-click noise complaint. The result has been something like a 1800% increase in the number of noise complaints they receive. Which is unsurprising because now you can just click a button every 75 seconds as the planes fly over your house.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Likewise, maybe the divorce rate rose from 1960-1990 because people interacted with their spouse more, and realized they didn't get along. Cocooning hides potential problems and flaws in a marriage, since spouses only talk to each other and engage in activities together infrequently.

    I like to think that cocooning has no benefits at all. It ameliorates divorce because people don't realize that a bad marriage is a bad marriage to begin with. Cocooning just papers over the negative reality - not a good thing."


    Do you really think a cocooning trend means people don't interact with others at all? I'm skeptical at best of this blog's single-mindedness on the cocooning vs. outgoing trends, but I at least believed that the readers and writer had a working definition of a social trend as the general TENDENCY of a population to behave in one way or another, and not that all people are either 100% cocooning or 100% outgoing. The audience here seems to be fairly young and single, so maybe you believe the old canard that once you get married and have kids, your social life is over? I don't know. I can tell you that's not the case at all, even during this so-called cocooning period.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I think this really does have a large part to do with technology making the cost of being a busybody low. If you are at the park with your kids and see unattended children in the mid 90s you likely didn't have a cell phone and even if you did, 311/911 didn't dump you to the geolocated police department so you had to have the actual number, which you couldn't just do a google search for. At which point it is just easier to assume they are okay.

    Example. O'Hare airport just created a web app or some such to make a 1-click noise complaint. The result has been something like a 1800% increase in the number of noise complaints they receive. Which is unsurprising because now you can just click a button every 75 seconds as the planes fly over your house."


    Totally agree. Make things more convenient and people will use it more. The impulse to, in this instance, complain, was always there, but not to the extant that people would spend more than 5 minutes on it, at which point the feeling of frustration ebbs away. When suddenly a complaint could be filed almost instantly, those could be captured at the moment of frustration, and suddenly it seems like people are more frustrated than they were the week before the app launched. Which isn't the case at all, of course. The same argument has been made about the correlation between the availability of guns and the male suicide rate.

    With regards to helicopter parenting and over-concern about safety, that trend started a bit before cell phones were ubiquitous. I think the 24/7 news cycle kicked it all off, then the internet, followed by cell phones, and then the great confluence of all three of those things with the smartphone. All information and convenience all the time adds up to lots of actionable impulse behavior. People haven't changed but the availability of "information" combined with the ability to connect and broadcast at will has magnified, amplified and made permanent people's fleeting daily fears, which before this technology, would come and go with no way or reason to act on them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "With regards to helicopter parenting and over-concern about safety, that trend started a bit before cell phones were ubiquitous. I think the 24/7 news cycle kicked it all off, then the internet, followed by cell phones, and then the great confluence of all three of those things with the smartphone."

    Helicopter parenting was stronger in the 40's-mid 60's then it was in the late 60's-early 90's. You've seen a Christmas story, right? Adults constantly warn the boys about BB guns and the mom dotes on the kids relentlessly. The scene where she bundles up the younger one for the elements is classic. Of course, this is a bit of a caricature but it does reflect the way parents acted before the later 60's.

    When people are more neurotic and uptight they are going to more concerned about their kids being too weak/stupid to handle things safely, to say no to strangers, to even dress themselves. Parents fear giving their kids more distance because they're terrified that they'll get hurt as soon as they leave supervision. But how do you learn if you're being sheltered 24/7?

    We're already seeing the effects of this, with post 1990 born Millennials in particular being exposed as dangerously naive after going off to college. And also being exposed as insolent and aloof when dealing with people since they've been shut away from frequently handling spontaneous and complex situations in their youth.

    The cocooning climate also has robbed them of any sort of strong bond with their community and even friends arguably since their whole lives other people have been on guard.

    If you've never really known unpretentious joy around people, why put effort into being more personable and convivial?

    ReplyDelete
  12. "I think this really does have a large part to do with technology making the cost of being a busybody low. If you are at the park with your kids and see unattended children in the mid 90s you likely didn't have a cell phone and even if you did, 311/911 didn't dump you to the geolocated police department so you had to have the actual number, which you couldn't just do a google search for. At which point it is just easier to assume they are okay."

    Tech doesn't really affect people's judgement and mood. When people were more relaxed and amiable in the later 60's-earlier 90's we didn't jump to paranoid conclusions as often. Let's not forget either that the sheer normality of kids being alone and taking risks in 70's-90's meant that people had a more lackadaisical attitude towards things that would now alarm and provoke people.

    Into the 90's people were often as afraid of kids as they were afraid for them. Remember the juvenile delinquency scares that didn't really fade away until the mid 2000's?

    Last but not least, before the advent of cell phones, people often acted to help out people if they really thought someone was in trouble. If you were at a playground and saw some scruffy perv eyeing the kids too long, you might tell him to get lost by some threat. You might even rough him up if he doesn't cooperate. And if he really seemed like bad news, you'd stick around and tell someone to get the cops. Serial killer Richard Ramirez was on the loose in 1985 and got captured by Mexicans in East L.A. after his mugshot was publicized. Some of those Mexicans gave him shots while they held him before the cops showed up. And the cops didn't give those people a hard time. When violence is more common and testosterone levels are higher, people aren't so cautious about "getting involved" if the situation calls for it.

    People back then were more likely to send a tough message rather than just dialing a phone and scurrying away.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Helicopter parenting was stronger in the 40's-mid 60's then it was in the late 60's-early 90's. You've seen a Christmas story, right? Adults constantly warn the boys about BB guns and the mom dotes on the kids relentlessly. The scene where she bundles up the younger one for the elements is classic. Of course, this is a bit of a caricature but it does reflect the way parents acted before the later 60's."

    Post-war kids were allowed as much, if not more, physical freedom during the day as 60s - 80s kids were allowed. And they certainly had more experience with guns. Are you really basing your argument on A Christmas Story?

    The rest of your two recent comments are full of vague generalizations like, "When people were more relaxed and amiable in the later 60's-earlier 90's we didn't jump to paranoid conclusions as often." Is that the case? People didn't jump to conclusions about others based on all kinds of things back in those decades? Speaking from experience during the 80s and early 90s, people were pretty much the same as they are now, except topical arguments took days and weeks (and sometimes never) to be resolved due to the lack of the internet. Your dewy-eyed pseudo-reminiscence (an actual reminiscence would require one to be cognizant and physically present during the time being reminisced about) about those rough and tumble 80s when people roamed the streets giving the what for and, possible, The Business, to trench-coated perverts, is hilarious. People did and didn't police each other back then, just as they do and don't today.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Your dewy-eyed pseudo-reminiscence (an actual reminiscence would require one to be cognizant and physically present during the time being reminisced about) about those rough and tumble 80s when people roamed the streets giving the what for and, possible, The Business, to trench-coated perverts, is hilarious."

    Testosterone levels were literally higher back then. Violence, whether in the form of murder, brawls, or vigilance was a lot more common. You snicker at the idea of people sticking up for others. Where did you grow up? Even areas that we think of as multi cult hell holes had a much stronger feeling of communtiy than they do now. I don't remember the thread (I think it was Sailer's blog) off hand, but someone said that the last time they remember an earnest block party was 1992.

    Are you honestly that out of touch that you haven't noticed how even supposedly good friends these days are more distant from each other than they were in the 80's/90's? Let alone people who we know worse. People even spoke with higher/softer voices back then. It's not very welcoming to have a low, gruff voice.

    "Post-war kids were allowed as much, if not more, physical freedom during the day as 60s - 80s kids were allowed."

    Kids didn't really exploit the freedom they had in the 40's/50's, assuming they had it to begin with. Silents and early Boomers are notoriously easy to take advantage of since they had so little experience dealing with people at a young age. Face it, people who grew up in the 40's/50's (or 2000's/2010's) aren't as street smart as people born in the 60's and 70's.

    Were you a child in the 40's? It would be nice if you went by a name, too. Early Boomers can talk a good game about all the rough housing they did in their spiffy GI Billed new suburbs, but later Boomers and especially Gen X-ers were the real deal. A lot of Gen X-ers didn't even have two parents around to monitor them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. There's a funny scene in Dirty Harry (1972) in which Harry is mistaken for a window peeper and several irate neighbors grab him and pummel him. By the 70's people were tired of liberal mid century nonsense about "understanding" deviants. They wanted to kick ass when people got out of line. Again, the flight or fight response was greater in the 70's and 80's because people dealt with violence more often.

    It isn't to say that everyone was an alert vigilante back then. Rather, people were less naive and more comfortable dealing with trouble. Just hearing about stuff that happened at your school (school violence peaked in the 80's) or in your town helped prepare you for dealing with trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Testosterone levels were literally higher back then. Violence, whether in the form of murder, brawls, or vigilance was a lot more common. You snicker at the idea of people sticking up for others. Where did you grow up? Even areas that we think of as multi cult hell holes had a much stronger feeling of communtiy (sic) than they do now. I don't remember the thread (I think it was Sailer's blog) off hand, but someone said that the last time they remember an earnest block party was 1992."

    I don't snicker at the idea of people sticking up for each other, but I'd also like to know why you think people do it less today than in previous decades. What makes you think that?

    "Kids didn't really exploit the freedom they had in the 40's/50's, assuming they had it to begin with. Silents and early Boomers are notoriously easy to take advantage of since they had so little experience dealing with people at a young age."

    Ha, based on what? We're talking people in their 70s now, what data or trend have you observed that brought you to the conclusion that this age group is "notoriously easy to take advantage of"? In what way did they have so little experience dealing with people at a young age? What does that even mean? They were cloistered?

    "Are you honestly that out of touch that you haven't noticed how even supposedly good friends these days are more distant from each other than they were in the 80's/90's?"

    Are they? If you're experiencing that in your personal life, do you think it might have to do with getting older and having competing demands on your time? That happens to everyone, you know, and it's just a fact of life. Having turned 18 in 1988, and having good friends both back then and now, I can certainly attest that I am not as in touch with those friends on a daily basis today, at age 46 with a wife, 3 kids and a full-time job, as I was in 1988. But I'll tell you one thing, I'm WAY more in touch with old friends with the help of Facebook than I would be without it. And I and others I know are in contact with our friends as much as time and distance allows, and no more or less so than I remember my parents being in the 80s. I'll give you this, almost no one I know is close to their neighbors, and that wasn't the case pre-90s. So there you go.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "There's a funny scene in Dirty Harry (1972) in which Harry is mistaken for a window peeper and several irate neighbors grab him and pummel him. By the 70's people were tired of liberal mid century nonsense about "understanding" deviants. They wanted to kick ass when people got out of line. Again, the flight or fight response was greater in the 70's and 80's because people dealt with violence more often."

    Again with citing scenes in movies as proof of societal behavior. Movies are, by and large, fantasy fulfillment and not necessarily indicative of what's going on in real life. Dirty Harry is a good example of this, as people were feeling increasingly distrustful of institutions and fearful of young people in the early 70s, and so a vigilante like Harry Callahan would be an obviously appealing character to act out a lot of people's fantasies in ways that they certainly weren't acting out in real life.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ha, based on what? We're talking people in their 70s now, what data or trend have you observed that brought you to the conclusion that this age group is "notoriously easy to take advantage of"? In what way did they have so little experience dealing with people at a young age? What does that even mean? They were cloistered?

    People were very cocooned in the later 30's-early 60's. So by default they were not going to have that many opportunities to deal with people. A common subject in mid century culture is kids listening to a radio alone/sometimes with a sibling in a post WW2 suburb bedroom.

    I told my Gen X boss this and she seemed shocked. After all, in those wholesome days kids did nothing but play pickup sports, have backyard BBQs, and study. Nope. The childhood depicted in the Sandlot (which occurs circa 1965) is what many people erroneously associate with the 40's and 50's. In reality, the relatively unsupervised activities (and especially kids acting horny as they do in that movie) of the Sandlot were firmly of the 60's. See also Stand By Me which was appropriately set in the early 60's (and filmed in the outgoing mid 80's making it that much more authentic).

    There's a reason you don't see many period pieces set in the 40's and 50's. People didn't do much.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oops, the Sandlot was actually set in 1962. Still, I stand by the fact that people including kids got slowly more outgoing around 1960. So kids born in the mid 50's and beyond were going to do a lot more and be more street smart that those born in the 30's and 40's.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "A common subject in mid century culture is kids listening to a radio alone/sometimes with a sibling in a post WW2 suburb bedroom."

    And a common subject of 60s - 80s culture is a kid watching TV alone. Doesn't mean that's all kids did in those days. My parents were kids in the 50s and early 60s, and are chock full of stories of roaming around town and walking to school and playing sports. Also, working. Lots of kids still worked regularly back then, bringing them into contact with all kinds of people. It's probably true they weren't as unsupervised as some kids in the 70s and 80s were, but they were allowed to roam a greater distance than kids from the 90s on, certainly, and possible more than 70s/80s kids. And even during the 70s/80s, latchkey kids weren't the norm in most areas, they were simply a new and growing phenomenon.

    As for kids acting horny, well, I'm pretty confident that was around during the 40s and 50s. Haven't you seen the movie Grease!? Ha.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Cocooning vs. outgoing changes a little before falling-crime vs. rising-crime. Interpersonal openness leads to rising crime, cocooning leads to falling crime.

    Midcentury cocooning lasted from roughly 1930 to 1955, and falling homicide rates from 1934 to 1958.

    Your parents are remembering the second half of the '50s, when people had clearly begun to reverse the earlier mood of Nighthawks at the Diner, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, film noir, Dr. Spock / "smothering mothers" / Phillip Wylie's popular rantings against them, children huddled around the TV set, fortress-like cars sheltering the customers at the drive-ins, strip shopping centers, and dull schmaltzy pop music.

    In general, Boomers are unreliable sources for the Midcentury because they only experienced the very end of it, when it was well into the Elvis-and-after phase. They don't even remember the '40s, let alone the '30s.

    But unlike later generations who don't know about the Midcentury, they are very vocal and certain-sounding about what life and society were like B.C. -- Before the Counter-culture. Not really, though: daily life was palpably growing more wild by the late '50s with rock and roll, teenagers cruising around unsupervised, and STD rates going on the rise.

    In the Boomer mind, however, the late '50s and early '60s weren't the first steps toward The Sixties, they were the idyllic Eden before The Fall (The Fall being viewed "for better or worse").

    Not only are they unaware of what society was like in general, they don't even recall what attitudes and practices were like toward children like them. Give them as much time to describe the zeitgeist, and they won't come up with Dr. Spock or Seduction of the Innocent.

    It would be like an early Millennial trying to describe attitudes toward children and teenagers in the '80s, and not coming up with Satanic panic, runaways, faces on milk cartons, teen pregnancy, or teenage suicide (don't do it).

    ReplyDelete
  22. The opposite type of confusion is caused by people who are pathologically sanguine -- who can't see their environment decaying before their very eyes.

    Most Gen X-ers, without thinking it over, can just tell how less open, outgoing, and public-space-oriented people are these days. "Dead malls" has been a topic of interest for 10 years now, and even if you hadn't thought about it consciously, you'd nod in agreement when the topic was brought up. "That's right -- you don't see children or teenagers milling about unsupervised all day in public places. Or the senior citizens, for that matter."

    Such forms of public life were unremarkable and everyday just 25-20 years ago, and malls have not been replaced by something equally open and social, only different / new / improved.

    It also makes me suspect that pathological sanguinity is linked with deficient / suppressed memory. How can someone born in the early '70s not remember the mall atmosphere of the '80s?

    In moderate doses, "forgetting and moving on" is healthy and adaptive. But in the extreme form, it leads to being boiled alive -- certainly the individual, and any group whose well-being depends on that person's stewardship.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Past blog posts have mentioned that gays are incapable of nostalgia, have low crystallized intelligence. Those phenomena have taken over the whole society during periods of cocooning.

    "In moderate doses, "forgetting and moving on" is healthy and adaptive."

    I'm not sure its ever really healthy. I think that the more you remember, in the more detail, the better off you are and the better your future development is.

    One thing I've noticed is that Baby Boomers can recite their childhoods in great detail, whereas the younger generation have more fleeting memories, including myself. Not sure if this is because of the social milieu they grew up in - people tend to remember more during outgoing times. Or if its because they reached a higher level of maturity at an earlier age. More mature people have better memories whereas children quickly forget, so if someone matured more as a biological child they would remember a lot more also.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't think its necessarily a conservative-liberal difference. A lot of liberals have pretty strong nostalgia for the 60s, for instance.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "A lot of liberals have pretty strong nostalgia for the 60s, for instance."

    Yet people in some ways became less liberal in the later 60's/70's. People were getting more homophobic (yeah I know about the DSM thing but that was an early example of elite/wannabe elite striving and also a sign of growing Jewish/cultural Marxist influence). The fabled "silent majority" were growing fed up with criminals/deviants while ivory tower occupants began to drift further and further into leftist delusion.

    Among the causes which had some mainstream sympathy, like greater civil rights for blacks and women, there was virtually nothing about gays lest people be alienated. Greater tolerance in rootless places like NY and San Fran. shouldn't be construed as mainstream sympathy. I read some 70's SF news articles dealing with SF gay serial killers and many gays were still bitching about the SF police (which was still mostly Irish white guys) hassling them. In fact, gays were still marginal enough that they generally didn't cooperate with cops out of fear that it would jeopardize their hangouts and cruising.

    Also, people were growing disenchanted with the SCIENCE! dorkiness of mid century culture (which was amenable to leftist utopianism) in the later 60's. in 1955, no one could fathom that by the mid 70's guys would be growing their hair out, wearing jean jackets, and going to see virtuoso rock groups rather than aspiring to be rocket scientists.

    I think the Reagan era was in many ways at least superficially conservative to the point that some liberals exaggerate the liberalism of the 60's/70's to make the 80's seem that much more sinister.

    From an economic standpoint, the 50's/60's/early 70's were actually a lot more liberal than the later 70's/80's.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "It also makes me suspect that pathological sanguinity is linked with deficient / suppressed memory. How can someone born in the early '70s not remember the mall atmosphere of the '80s?"

    I think too that every generation has people who are just not people oriented or not inclined to the kinesthetic. Whatever other people are doing it's just as well. They'll always have their ideas and nerdy hobbies regardless of what's going on around them.

    On the other hand, people who are more passionate and more physically extroverted will flourish in an outgoing time period but will find a more cerebral period to be miserably shallow, devoid of the sorts of things which bring us closer to other people and the elements. I mean, Jews have never been more smug and powerful than they are now. They know that Euro/Semitic gentiles are mostly demoralized by contemp. culture which is just fine by them. The kind of white people who look up to Jews and Asians are probably doing just fine right now.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "gays are incapable of nostalgia, have low crystallized intelligence. Those phenomena have taken over the whole society during periods of cocooning."

    I was rather into 80's horror movies for a while. I've heard some people in this little scene say that 80's horror (especially slashers) have developed a decent following among gays who tend to latch onto anything that develops a "camp" reputation. Given their lack of empathy, it's not surprising that they tend to ridicule the earnest aesthetic and outdated fashion rather than actually get involved in the story. On this one review website run by a Gen X gay (a bear for what it's worth), he did acknowledge that he missed the individuality and color of the 80's. He though that Millennials were really missing out, having grown up in the repressed post '92 era.

    I heard the lead actor of the 3rd Friday the 13th movie (from 1982) say that modern audiences in general tend to perceive these movies as silly, with a lot of derisive laughing at the film's characters. But he said that early 80's audiences took the movie at face value, tried to empathize with the characters, and got more involved in the suspense.

    By about '86 here was a growing trend to make movie characters (esp. in genre movies) more over the top and less sympathetic.

    Maybe in a rising inequality period we get more callous to the idea of rooting for ordinary characters. Obviously, the beginning of cocooning in the 90's meant that characters became even less appealing while the audience also became less empathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I wonder too if that group is the most physically well developed but then again testosterone levels have been falling since the early 80's. But judging from late 80's/early 90's movies/music videos, early-mid Gen X-ers do look robust.

    Care to expand on that? Is it due just to T-levels? I've noticed the same thing. Today's young white men just don't look very hardy to me.

    ReplyDelete
  29. "Care to expand on that? Is it due just to T-levels? I've noticed the same thing. Today's young white men just don't look very hardy to me."

    It's a topic with a lot of nooks and crannies. There's a lot to chew on:

    - The current climate affecting everyone simultaneously i.e. everyone's T levels are lower now than they were in say, 1985. I'd like to put this down to low violence/risk taking/libido, but studies show that's the decline's been under way since 1980. I still think that the nature of a period affects people's blood (greater sex and violence will spike hormones needed for action) but it's not the only thing.

    - The nature of one's upbringing affecting one's physical development which can have lasting consequences. Those born from about 1955-1980 grew up fast in a world where people got robbed, murdered, kidnapped, beaten, and raped etc. at a relatively high level. All this heavy stuff sent their bodies the message that the world was a tough place that required strong muscles and bones. So they had lots of male hormones coursing through them throughout their childhood and adolescence.

    - Nutrition probably does have an important connection. Young Boomers had much better diets than X-ers (the microwave generation). Boomers not only had thoughtfully prepared meals, but their parents didn't freak out about giving them ample animal products. The increasingly bogus "nutrition" culture of the 70's (with PC animal rights crapola in the 90's) and beyond probably hammered very late Boomers and especially X-ers. There's a reason veggies end up so thin and it's not because their "healthy".

    Still, I looked at a circa 2001 yearbook and the seniors (born around 1983) looked more rugged than the younger kids and that's not just because they were 1-3 years older than the others. It's been my experience that '83 births are probably the last year of plausible Gen X-ers. With each passing year after '83, people get softer looking. More Millennial. '88ers are probably the first full class of total wimps, but then again, people have basically done jack shit (for good or for ill) since the late 90's.

    A person's main formative years are 14-24. Given how people got really lame in the 2000's, that would mean that those born in '86 and after got shafted. No reason to grow up when things are so damn boring and safe, right?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I was born in early 1985 and those born in the 1st half of the 80's had fairly loose upbringings and we did experience the last wave of grit and disorder in the 90's during at least part of our adolescence.

    On the other hand, those born in the 2nd half of the 80's, in my experience, were on much tighter leashes. I saw a lot of 5-8 year old kids wearing bike helmets starting around 1996. It's not just that parents of '80-'85ers rarely bothered with helmets; those kids would've protested being stuck with them and would've taken them off as soon as the parents weren't around.

    And the parents often weren't around for early 80's born kids, anyway. I had 2 parents who frequently worked long daytime hours and by the time I was out of daycare (around '91) they had gotten divorced. My slightly older brother and a series of babysitters took care of me. But I remember a lot of time (esp. in the summer of course) of having free rein to basically do whatever, including lots of sleepovers at various places (how did my Mom know how "legit" other parents/babysitters were?. Well, she didn't). I rode a 4 wheeler sans helmet when I was around 8. I saw cable porn at a male "babysitter's" house and I remember well a lot of the wild crap that kids still did in the 90's. There was a stash of porn in the patch of woods situated behind the street, our house got vandalized a few times for no good reason (my family wasn't asking for it). And this was a heavily white suburban area.

    My Mom still has a great picture of the local late Gen X/very early Millennial kids wearing short shorts and either tank tops or no shirt at all around 1990. Hanging around a tree fort. Mullets present and accounted for, though I never had one.

    There's another great picture of me and my brother, circa '91 (hot pink and short shorts) sitting precariously near the edge of a bluff overlooking the St. Croix River in far Western Wisconsin.

    Agnostic did a post once about "blissful kids in danger" photos being much more common from about 1970-1993 then before or after.

    I've noticed too that those born since about '88 tend to look profoundly dorky pictures. Way too much forced smiling by very infantile faces.

    ReplyDelete
  31. "Still, I looked at a circa 2001 yearbook and the seniors (born around 1983) looked more rugged than the younger kids and that's not just because they were 1-3 years older than the others. It's been my experience that '83 births are probably the last year of plausible Gen X-ers. With each passing year after '83, people get softer looking. More Millennial. '88ers are probably the first full class of total wimps, but then again, people have basically done jack shit (for good or for ill) since the late 90's."

    My friends and I did this same exact thing with one of my friend's older brother's jazz band group photo. He was 4 years older than we were, graduating in 1982. The seniors in that photo looked like they were 27, with beards and long hair. We commented on how people just looked older back then and our class, 1986, looked so damn young even as seniors. I'm serious, the exact same thing. Thinking about it now, it was more likely due to fashion, with seniors in 1982 still sporting basically shaggy 70s styles, especially in the suburbs. By 1986, the prevailing fashion was more clean cut and trendy, with facial hair completely out of fashion.

    Some people always romanticize earlier generations. How about this? I had a column in my high school paper when I was a senior. One of my columns was about how school rules were too strict "these days" and how kids don't cut loose as much anymore. I wrote about a (most likely apocryphal) story of a senior from a late 70s class driving his car onto the quad and down one of the halls, and only getting reprimanded with a 2 day suspension. Nowadays, I wrote, he would have been expelled, if only anyone in our lame class would have the balls to do it in the first place. I really did write that column, in 1986. Same as it ever was.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Recent research suggests that women on the Pill favour less masculine features and traits in their mate. I have a theory that women using the Pill have largely been breeding with wimps over the last few decades, producing successively less masculine generations of boys, which is how we've arrived at our current situation.

    My childhood almost seems like one endless summer of messing around in woods, going to the beach, fishing, camping, swimming, pool parties, sneaking onto golf courses, even sneaking into neighbors' houses, hanging out down by the river, setting random things on fire. Around ages 7-10 our parents would let us stay out all day, from dawn to dusk. In my mid-teens I was sent to school in England and things changed, but even there we were given extraordinary freedom to go to London and explore the city.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Not only are they unaware of what society was like in general, they don't even recall what attitudes and practices were like toward children like them. Give them as much time to describe the zeitgeist, and they won't come up with Dr. Spock or Seduction of the Innocent."

    Not sure how germane to the argument this is, but I remember seeing the Dr. Spock book lying around the house when I was a kid. It sold very well into the 70s. Since we're parsing decades, I guess I can rely on my uncle's stories. He's 78, so very much remembers the 40s and early 50s, and from what I've heard from him, his childhood was pretty much the same as my mom's. From pop culture, how about the Little Rascals? A pretty good picture of childhood in the 30s, with lots of unsupervised time. Have you talked to people who were around back then?

    "Most Gen X-ers, without thinking it over, can just tell how less open, outgoing, and public-space-oriented people are these days. 'Dead malls' has been a topic of interest for 10 years now, and even if you hadn't thought about it consciously, you'd nod in agreement when the topic was brought up. 'That's right -- you don't see children or teenagers milling about unsupervised all day in public places. Or the senior citizens, for that matter.'"

    Indoor malls are falling out of fashion because they're soul crushing and always have been. Outdoor malls are where people gather now. We have a couple of them around here, they are packed with people, especially in the spring and summer. They were designed to look like old fashioned main streets, with water fountains and other attractions, and people like to take their kids there and stroll around. Incidentally, our indoor mall is also packed all the time, and my kids like to hang out there with friends on occasion. Maybe it's different where you live? I have noticed that young people don't hang around convenience stores as much, and as the father of 3 boys, I'm totally cool with that. In large bedroom communities, it's hard for kids to even find a public place nearby, and that's a concern. But parks around here get used pretty heavily.

    "Such forms of public life were unremarkable and everyday just 25-20 years ago, and malls have not been replaced by something equally open and social, only different / new / improved."

    Skate parks, water parks, outdoor malls, and libraries (seriously, kids go to the library way more often now then when I was a kid). Hanging around retail establishments in strip malls is not the end-all of teenage public activity.

    "It also makes me suspect that pathological sanguinity is linked with deficient / suppressed memory. How can someone born in the early '70s not remember the mall atmosphere of the '80s?"

    I remember it well, but I have two points about this:

    1 - Are indoor malls the gold standard for public places where kids gather? As I've stated earlier, the venues have shifted, people still gather, just not quite as much in indoor malls.

    2 - Have you been in an indoor mall lately? The ones around here are still very much frequented by roaming bands of teenagers, as well as their parents. The "dead malls" are in areas that are declining economically. There are some around here in older parts of suburban Sacramento, and it's not just the indoor malls there that are dying, it's all retail. As those neighborhoods change, retail goes elsewhere. Same as it ever was.

    In moderate doses, "forgetting and moving on" is healthy and adaptive. But in the extreme form, it leads to being boiled alive -- certainly the individual, and any group whose well-being depends on that person's stewardship."

    I'm sanguine about the kinds of societal changes you mention because I'm not attached to the specifics like type of venue. The activity is what matters, while venues, styles, tools and attitudes always change.

    ReplyDelete
  34. "He was 4 years older than we were, graduating in 1982. The seniors in that photo looked like they were 27, with beards and long hair. We commented on how people just looked older back then and our class, 1986, looked so damn young even as seniors. I'm serious, the exact same thing. Thinking about it now, it was more likely due to fashion, with seniors in 1982 still sporting basically shaggy 70s styles, especially in the suburbs. By 1986, the prevailing fashion was more clean cut and trendy, with facial hair completely out of fashion."

    Sailer recently did a post on unisex fashion in the early 70's. It was a Boomer thing, mostly (the glam rock thing, from Kiss to Poison, was totally Boomer). In the 70's and very early 80's, males sometimes had long/flowing (sometimes permed) hair. And even the shorter hairstyles had a femmy bowl cut thing going on. By around '84 these styles were totally out of date and more masculine/angular hair styles (the flat top, the mullet/feathered near mullet, spiky crew cuts like you see in Top Gun) had taken over.

    Both the femmy hair styles and heavy facial hair went out of fashion I think due to older Boomers/Silents being embarrassed about so much of 70's culture (new age crap, polyester, liberalism, hedonism etc.) as well as late Boomers and Gen X-ers wanting to make the 80's their own. Sailer has said several times that the Reagan fashion revolution made a big impression on him and other Boomers who generally find the 70's to be laughably off kilter compared to the eras before and since.

    These trends continued to the point that Men's and Women's fashion are almost as distinct from each other as they were in the 40's-early 60's. A lot of late Gen X/early Millenial guys have short angular hair and beards with the females favoring spandex tights rather than the high waisted heavy cotton jeans of the 70's and 80's. One of the reasons that feminism is DOA to women born since about 1980 is because it's not been cool to act like a dude in their lives. Women born in the 40's, 50's, and even 60's to some extent fought against their elders who favored distinct gender roles. But now the geezers represent the bygone era of unisex fashion, so why would girls think it's cool?

    Keep in mind that the 70's were as "trendy" as the 80's. People in the late 60's/70's basically were rejecting the perceived stuffiness of 40's-early 60's fashion like cotton clothes that needed the iron and starch, crew cuts and clean faces for guys, and women not being allowed to wear pants.

    ReplyDelete
  35. "Sailer recently did a post on unisex fashion in the early 70's. It was a Boomer thing, mostly (the glam rock thing, from Kiss to Poison, was totally Boomer). In the 70's and very early 80's, males sometimes had long/flowing (sometimes permed) hair. And even the shorter hairstyles had a femmy bowl cut thing going on. By around '84 these styles were totally out of date and more masculine/angular hair styles (the flat top, the mullet/feathered near mullet, spiky crew cuts like you see in Top Gun) had taken over."

    For what it's worth, I've always viewed that particular 70s shaggy hair/beard suburban look to be more masculine that what came about in the 80s. Could be just my memories of my dad and uncles looking like that as a kid. Suburban 80s styles were pretty bland, lots of high schoolers taking the tamest elements of the 60s (Birkenstocks, flowing dresses, paisley shirts, rounded glasses), or else lots of sweaters, on both guys and girls. The cool kids wore surfing related t-shirts (OP, etc) Vans and 501s. Your basic Spicolli look. The more angular new wave thing didn't reach the suburbs en masse until about '85. And we can't forget the importance of Flashdance and Benetton. HUGE with girls back then.

    "One of the reasons that feminism is DOA to women born since about 1980 is because it's not been cool to act like a dude in their lives."

    Have you been on the internet lately? Feminism is very alive and well (for better or worse) among young women these days.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "For what it's worth, I've always viewed that particular 70s shaggy hair/beard suburban look to be more masculine that what came about in the 80s."

    If you mean masculine as in viking beserker (which persisted with 80's metal bands/fans and stoners) I guess you'd be right. But looking like a warrior was not hip in the 80's. Tribal chic in generaly wouldn't really start to take off until the mid 90's.

    I still think there was a distinctly curvy/feminine element to a lot of later 70's male hair styles which just doesn't seem macho to me. By the 80's long hairs were often blending the front and or sides into the back for a more angular style instead of the bushy waves of the later 70's. Unstyled long hair was more hip in the early 70's and it did come back into fashion around 1992.

    For a good comparison, check out the videos on YouTube for REO Speedwagon in 1980 vs 1984.

    Keep on Loving You - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJzNZ1c5C9c

    I Can't Fight This Feeling - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpOULjyy-n8

    I don't think the band looks more masculine with poofy and face covering 70's hair.

    ReplyDelete
  37. "One of the reasons that feminism is DOA to women born since about 1980 is because it's not been cool to act like a dude in their lives."

    Have you been on the internet lately? Feminism is very alive and well (for better or worse) among young women these days.

    Baby Boomer style raging feminism is out. As I said, the things that they fought for are so entrenched that it seems passe and unnecessary to be as strident as the Boomers. Yes, a lot of girls are awfully bratty. But I put that down to mid-late period Millennials being rude in a clueless/childish way as opposed to being self-consciously Tuff like Boomer women.

    Millennials in general are basically milquetoast. They aren't assertive in the least. And like I said, Millennial fashion indicates that they aren't going for the androgynous 70's look or the Power Woman 80's shoulder pad look. Which indicates that they aren't thrilled about picking up the career women baton from the geezers who led the charge in the 60's/70's.

    Basically, the fashion trends largely dictated by Boomers from about 1970-1990 were heavily influenced by the striving to push career ahead of the family. By the 90's, X-ers were going for a less pretentious and less androgynous look. And this has continued with Millennials.

    ReplyDelete
  38. It's more than just being "bratty," there is a large and lively community of feminists all over the internet on sites like Jezebel, We Hunted The Mammoth, Flavorwire, and geez, tons more. The whole conversation about "rape culture" is central to it. I find almost all of it shrill and misguided, but it's there. And they are quite assertive.

    ReplyDelete

You MUST enter a nickname with the "Name/URL" option if you're not signed in. We can't follow who is saying what if everyone is "Anonymous."