Snapshot of a Changing America

The U.S. population is growing older and thinking smaller

"The United States themselves," wrote Walt Whitman, "are essentially the greatest poem." That epic is remade by every new generation, and today its rhythm, structure and content are unlike any that went before. The nation is growing middle-aged and more solitary. Men and women are delaying marriage, delaying childbirth, having few or no children at all. Real income, once expected to rise as naturally as a hot-air balloon, has leveled off. For many, home ownership, once thought of as practically a constitutional right, has become a dream denied. Demography is destiny, and Americans of today, in ways both obvious and subtle,...

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