January/ February 2013 Wholesome Millennials—Black, Brown, and White

By Phillip Longman

Prevailing stereotypes about America’s youth, and particularly about young African Americans, are often wildly off base, either because they were never true, or because they have failed to keep up with the reality of generational change. Below is a selection of social indicators showing ways in which today’s younger generation exhibits substantially more positive behaviors than did Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers at the same age, with young African Americans often leading the trend toward cleaner living and greater personal responsibility.

Source: Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Phillip Longman is a senior editor at the Washington Monthly and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches health care policy. He is also a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, where Atul Gawande is a board member.


  • jonh on February 06, 2013 1:42 PM:

    Black teen birthrate is a pretty dramatic story. I googled 'u.s. black teen birthrate by year graph' and got a more detailed graph with a clearer, interesting story:

    The rate dropped until reagan, where it levelled off, then rose again during Bush I, fell during Clinton, levelled off for Bush II and started falling again under Obama.

    My guess is that better prospects for black women -> deferred childbearing.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on February 22, 2013 11:23 AM:

    You should probably fix the title of the 5th chart; right now, it refers to "High Students Who Have Seriously Considered Suicide", which is interesting but probably not what was intended.

  • smartalek on February 25, 2013 6:51 AM:

    Damn -- I didn't even notice that.
    Another case of the mind's (or brain's) pattern-recognition systems filling in what it thinks ought to be there, instead of accurately representing what *is* there.
    Damn you, Darwin!
    Thanks, EOC.