The Declining American Dream and Immigration
July 04, 2007, 05:51 PM
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Paul Grier writes at the Christian Science Monitor:

Men in their 30s earn about $5,000 less in real terms than their fathers' generation did, according to a new study.

Now, I suspect this is actually quite a bit worse than the study indicates. The "market basket" used to measure inflation changes over time with "consumer taste". In the last generation, we have seen housing costs-and wealth concentration- rise significantly.

That means that while folks might be better able to afford lots of "toys"—or a cocaine or heroin habit, the price of affording to raise a family has risen significantly—and with it folks are less likely to have families.

The earning of a young man relative to his wife's father is a also major measure of chance of a woman having children. This means that realistic options to have a family are significantly decreasing for many men—and I suspect this is at the root of the resent tendency in American culture towards escapism and extreme risk taking.

Timothy Leary used to mention in his writings that overwhelmingly, the socio-sexual "imprint" of young men is pretty much decided by age 25. What that means is that "nesting" isn't really a viable reproductive strategy as it was historically. The chance of a young American man having a career track that might effectively contribute to a family by age 25 has declined-so these young men are pursuing alternative, often less constructive strategies.

But since 1973, median family income has been essentially flat, says Jillson.

There is quite a bit of literature on the "1972 productivity slowdown". I suspect the mid-60's immigration expansion and the rise of illegal immigration a few years later are major factors here. That deserves serious examination in detail.

I think history will be very unkind to the American political and economic leadership of the last four decades. It is clear that immigration has propped up property values in high-rent states like New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois and Florida—and the immigration is related to the massive migrations of the previously existing American population.

What does it say about a political or economic elite when they fail to maintain an economy that formerly maintained steady levels of productivity increase? Japan, for example has continued steady productivity increase-so it can be done. I think it says the more recent political and economic elites are failures-and that will become more apparent over time. There will be a lot of dirt to fling at both sides of the political spectrum.