Millennials now make up about an equal share of the electorate as the Boomer generation, which has generated much commentary on millennials' participation in the upcoming election. Based on data from American high school seniors, I find that 88% of millennials predicted they probably will vote in a public election.
I used the yearly reports of high school seniors' attitudes collected in the Monitoring the Future Survey, an ongoing survey of American students' attitudes and behaviors conducted since 1976. The limitation of this data-set is that it doesn't include youth who dropped out of school before twelfth grade, which varies over time.
About 90% of Boomer (seniors 1976 - 1982) and Generation X (seniors 1983 - 1999) members reported they will probably vote in a public election, when asked while they were high school seniors. Thus, the 88% of millennials (seniors 2000+) predicting they will someday vote is slightly down from previous generations of American youth.
To put this into perspective, 83% of millennial high school seniors reported they think they will eventually choose to get married. By contrast, 78% of Boomers predicted they would eventually choose to get married, while 80% of Generation X reported they expected to marry. In context of actual marriage behavior, even as attitudes about expecting to marry are increasing, a small but increasing number of people will never get married. These disparities highlight a cautionary tale that expectations of future actions do not necessarily predict actual behaviors. Notably, voting expectations remain higher than predictions of future marriage across the three generations.
Past research shows Black men and women are less likely to vote or to marry compared with Whites. These differences in behavior reflect racial variation in predictions of future marriage and voting behavior. The Monitoring the Future data show young Black men and women are less likely to report they expect to marry or to vote in a public election compared to their White counterparts.
The differences in attitudes between Black and White youth are narrowing. Young Black men and women are increasingly likely to predict they will get married in 2014 (71%) than they were in 1976 (57%). Black youth's expectations about voting in a public election remain largely unchanged.
White youth are also increasingly likely to predict they will eventually marry but they are less likely to expect to vote in a public election in 2014 compared to 1976. By 2014, White youth were about as likely to think they will eventually marry as they were to expect themselves to vote in a public election.
Note: Public data about other racial and ethnic minorities are not available in the Monitoring the Future data-set and thus this analysis is limited to White and Black youth.
Read this NYT article, Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?, published last Friday, highlighting one family's experience with the Restorative Justice process. Generally, I'm a fan, as incarceration doesn't seem like it brings closure to victims of crimes and I have strong doubts about jail as a one-size-fits-all societal solution.
However, in the case of domestic violence, particularly murder, I am uneasy and less convinced. Domestic violence (DV) is not like other crimes. It may seem compelling to think of DV fatalities as similar to drunk driving fatalities and it is certainly tempting to offer justifications, meaning, and forgiveness such as the murder being an especially bad night, a lapse in judgment, or a disease. Yet, a pattern of power and control is almost always present in DV fatalities and contrary to popular belief, it is not an anger management issue. Underlying domestic violence are issues of entitlement, power, and exploitation. I am concerned that if the parents featured in this NYT article had been connected with a domestic violence expert, they may have made a different decision regarding sentencing. The article implied that they were surprised that violence had been present in the relationship, "Conor was prone to bursts of irrational rage. Ann never told her parents that he had struck her several times." I'm not saying it certainly would have made a difference, but it's important to the process of restorative justice that they have full context and relevant information in making their recommendation about sentencing, and it doesn't sound like they received appropriate domestic violence education.
I am also curious what role race is playing in this outcome. What if the defendant was black? The incarceration rates in the US are disproportionately skewed to be a consequence for black men who have not graduated high school. (If you're looking for a book to read on that topic, I highly suggest the new book by Beth Richie, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation.) Restorative justice certainly has a role to play in addressing this social epidemic. However, I am very skeptical that this process would have been offered to a young man of color. It could be that this case example seems like one more instance of white men not being held accountable to their actions and adding to the narrative that when men murder their female partners, it must be a "senseless tragedy" rather than an epidemic of men's violence against women.
Note: The only mention in the article of seeking a domestic violence expert was with the prosecutor, when he was seeking consultation regarding a sentence, "Campbell would consult with community leaders, the head of a local domestic-violence shelter and others before arriving at the sentence he would offer McBride." This article could have been significantly strengthened if the reporter had also sought a DV expert. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence has an excellent resource for journalists.
A few days ago I linked to an article about how more people are delaying marriage these days or choosing not to marry at all. What I think was noticeably absent from the discussion during the time when this topic was back in the news, was the lack of commentary on the stereotype of the single African American woman in relation to women of other races. In fact, historically their has been all kinds of media analysis on the disproportional numbers of single Black women (Black Women See Fewer Black Men at the Alter from the NYTimes to be one of many examples) but it hardly gets a nod in the current "revelation" that many people are opting out of marriage. The closest mention was of how economics plays into marriage decisions with the rich marrying at higher rates than those with lower incomes. Check out an interesting response to the prior commentary: Don't lecture black women about marriage.
On a similar note, apparently a campaign was started back in 2010 to encourage black men and women to wed before having children as a response to the high number of single parent families in the black community (http://noweddingnowomb.com). While I am mostly befuddled by this "intervention", I also find it heterosexist and, to borrow a phrase from the domestic violence community, victim blaming. I found this reaction helpful in clarifying my reaction: Black women are not the problem and marriage is not the cure for the black community’s woes;