One thing we never seem to be short of are studies in human behavior. Several recent studies point to some alarming concerns for the future of our country. Reading survey outcomes is a little like reading tea leaves. Each person can see what they want to see in the results, but these results have more than just a few experts reaching similar conclusions.
The first is the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults. The survey reports that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying is decreasing. American students have increasingly given themselves "above average" ratings on several attributes but bragged most regarding their "drive to achieve." Almost four-fifths of survey responders say they're above average in this category.
The other survey from Pew Research Center, asked respondents if they had ever received benefits from any of six major federal entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or unemployment benefits. Pew found that in addition to the 55 percent of adults who had received benefits, another 16 percent said that while they had not received benefits themselves, a member of their household had — meaning 71 percent of adults belong to a household that has benefited from at least one of these six major programs. If veterans’ benefits and federal college loans and grants are included, the share of households with at least one recipient rises to a surprising 86 percent.
When you combine the results and begin looking at other factors one has to question if our youth will be prepared to be fully self sufficient when their time comes to take the reins and support a much larger and aging Boomer population.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and owner and publisher of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.