Friday, April 28, 2017

Donald Trump is the Last Baby Boomer President

I am of the youngest cohort of Baby Boomers, born in 1960.  Donald Trump, from the other end of our cohort, is 70.  While the younger Boomers will still be in their prime in four years - and, at a stretch, still viable in eight years - I think the era of Boomer presidents is over.

Barack Obama was the first Gen X president.  "No-Drama Obama" exemplified many of the virtues of Gen X.  He was a little ahead of time, though, as far as straight generational succession would predict.  If Hillary Clinton had been elected in 2008, I think she would have been the last Boomer president, and the normal time for the Gen X succession would have begun with this term.

The Silent generation, by the way, is the first in more than a century to have no presidents.  John McCain was probably their best shot, and Bernie Sanders was surely their last.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kids Do Help Happiness, After All

Our topic on WKYB this morning.

The conventional wisdom was that kids made parents less happy than non-parents.

However, a new study is upending that conclusion. First, they distinguished parents with young children at home from people who had ever had children - the latter being a much more mixed group.

Second, they noted that, since the 1990s, the happiness of non-parents had gone down, whereas the happiness of parents had held steadier. A higher percentage of parents with kids at home started saying they were "very happy", compared to the percentage of non-parents who were very happy.

I read this evidence this way:

Parents generally think that raising kids is meaningful, though hard.

Thinking that what we do is meaningful is a big part of being happy.

Parenting is a specific kind of project, which focuses the mind on what we need to do and to have.

This explains one interesting tidbit of this new study: parents were more confident that they had the financial resources to be happy than were the non-parents.  I think this is not because parents had more money, but because they had a better idea of what money they needed.  Within the vast and varied group of non-parents are many people who do not have as specific a project for their lives, so they don't know what kind of resources they will need.  They can imagine all kinds of scary contingencies - and against our anxieties, no amount of money can ever be enough.

It makes sense to me that people raising kids are happier because they have a better idea of what they are trying to do - and they believe that doing that is, on the whole, happy-making.

Monday, April 24, 2017

We Are All Equally Shaped By Society

We are all products of socialization.

It is not that some people are socialized into gender roles, while others are free, or freed, to be natural.

Nature writes a rough draft of ourselves, then society and our own agency edits it.

People who learn to reject traditional gender roles learn that, just as much as their opposites do.

Some thoughts on reading student responses to Alison Wolf's XX Factor.  Students often write that "society" forces people into gender roles, as if they would naturally do something else.