Tuesday, August 09, 2005

US Statistics Show Societal Improvements

My old friend Sancho Panza, Squire to the Knight of the Wholeful Countenance, sent along this article by David Brooks of the International Herald Tribune. It is enough to curdle the latte's of death cultists everywhere.

Brooks' article looks at the numbers compiled by the [US] Bureau of Justice Statistics indicating a remarkable trend. He points out:

- family violence down by more than 50% since 1993
- violent crime overall down by 55%
- violence by teenagers down 71%
- drunken driving fatalities down 38% since 1982, (even with 81% more miles driven)
- total consumption of hard liquor down more than 30%
- teenage pregnancy down 28% percent since 1990
- teenage births down significantly
- abortions are declining since the early 1990s.
- fewer children are living in poverty
- divorce rates are declining, albeit at a much more gradual pace.
- people with university degrees are seeing a sharp decline in divorce, especially if they were born after 1955.
- teenage suicide is down
- elementary school test scores are rising (a sign that more kids are living in homes conducive to learning).
- teenagers are losing their virginity later in life and having fewer sex partners.
In short, many of the indicators of social breakdown, which shot upward in the late 1960s and 1970s, and which plateaued at high levels in the 1980s, have been declining since the early 1990s.

But all of these efforts are part of a larger story. The decline in family violence is part of a whole web of positive, mutually reinforcing social trends. To put it in old-fashioned terms, America is becoming more virtuous. Americans today hurt each other less than they did 13 years ago. They are more likely to resist selfish and shortsighted impulses. They are leading more responsible, more organized lives. A result is an improvement in social order across a range of behaviors.
As for why this is happening.
The first thing that has happened is that people have stopped believing in stupid ideas: that the traditional family is obsolete, that drugs are liberating, that it is every adolescent's social duty to be a rebel.

The second thing that has happened is that many Americans have become better
parents. Studies reveal that parents now spend more time actively engaged with
kids, even though both parents are more likely to work outside the home.

Third, many people in the younger generation, under age 30 or so, are reacting against the culture of divorce. They are trying to lead lives that are more stable than the ones their parents led. Post-boomers behave better than the baby boomers did.
Brooks does not point out (though I will, of course) that church attendance is rising. There is a connection. A new day is coming.

Pass it on, then pass the Guinness.

2 Comments:

At 2:31 pm, August 11, 2005 , Blogger Alan said...

What are the trends in Canada, I wonder? Probably not so rosy.

Guinness is a drug, my friend. And a very liberating one at that.

 
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