Cultural Inequality in the U.S.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Charles Murray discusses the emergence of what he refers to as “cultural inequality” in the U.S. since the 1960s. According to Murray, this cultural inequality is a result of the formation of a “new upper class” and “new lower class” that no longer share an “American way of life.” Among the qualities that Murray uses to define this so-called American way of life are marriage, male employment, religion and marital births. The interactive graphic from the article shows statistics relating to all of these items for people aged 30-49 that are defined as upper middle class (“with at least a college education working in managerial jobs or high-status professions”) and working class (“with no more than a high school education in blue-collar, low-skill or service jobs”) from the 1960s/1970s and the 2000s. The data seem to support Murray's concept of a new cultural inequality in the US, as more members of the working class appear to have fallen away from the “American way of life” than members of the upper middle class over the last 4 or 5 decades. For example, while the marital rate of the upper middle class have fallen from 94% to 83% since 1960, the marital rate of the working class plummeted from 84% to 48% over the same time period. A similar trend can be seen in the rest of the graphic, with the working class experiencing a larger percentage increase in males with jobs working fewer than 40 hours per week and a larger percentage increase in those calling themselves non-religious.



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