86 posts categorized "Immigration, Population, Aging, and Demography"

March 04, 2024

Sharing Popular Culture: From Syndication to Streaming

Karen sternheimer 72523By Karen Sternheimer

Although I grew up in the era before streaming video was possible, let alone the dominant way that most consumers and I now watch content. (We used to call it “watching television” or “watching TV,” but that’s not always the device of choice to watch video now.) Canceling our cable was freeing a few years ago, and we realized that between YouTube and PBS Passport we were all set (we’ve had Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ over the years too). This appeals to my minimalist sensibility.

I was a child when cable television became widely available in the 1980s, and I had to convince my parents to subscribe after most of my friends’ families already had. My siblings and I had to pay for the installation and do extra chores as part of the agreement to subscribe. I think they wanted to be sure we wouldn’t spent too much time sitting in front of the TV.

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September 25, 2023

“You Want to Work or You Want to Steal?” The Impossible Choices Migrants Face Without Work Authorization

Stacy Torres author photoBy Stacy Torres

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” said Mark Twain. And history is once again rhyming in the current migrant crisis. The most visible consequences of our broken immigration system have unfolded on New York City streets, where this summer hundreds of asylum seekers slept outside a midtown Manhattan hotel doubling as humanitarian relief center and overcrowded shelter. But this national issue transcends any single region, and the growing desperation offers a cautionary tale for communities across the country.

More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since spring 2022, with more coming daily.  The city reports housing more than 82,000 people, including nearly 30,000 children, with the mayor estimating shelter costs to reach $12 billion by 2025.

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May 15, 2023

Life Expectancy: Explaining Declines in the U.S.

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report last year indicating that life expectancy in the United States dropped about 2.7 years between 2020 and 2021, “the biggest two-year decline in life expectancy since 1921-1923.”

What is life expectancy, how does it vary, and why has it declined?

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March 07, 2022

Age and the Great Resignation

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

You have probably heard that many people have been voluntarily leaving their jobs in 2021 and 2022, often called “the great resignation.” Much has been made about people deciding that they prefer to work from home and maybe even change where home is, sometimes relocating to lower-cost, slower paced communities during the pandemic. Perhaps people have decided that their work wasn’t fulfilling and they are looking for a permanent change, having been “awakened” by the sudden change thanks to the pandemic.

There is an almost romantic story being told about people “finding themselves” as those looking to hire wring their hands about the lack of labor supply. The data tell another story. As Forbes reported in January 2022:

Fully two-thirds of the folks leaving jobs this past August weren’t actually ‘quitting.’ They were retiring. One million were ‘normal’ retirements, an additional 1.5 million opted for early retirement. That’s a whole different story.

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February 28, 2022

Far from “Post-Racial”: Color-Blind Racism, Group Threat, and Anti-Asian Prejudice

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos

Since the election of President Obama in 2008, many Americans have claimed that we live in a “post-racial society” in which race no longer matters. After all, if we elected a Black man to be president – the ultimate position of power in the country – how can people still claim that racism exists?

Some telling societal metrics also speak to an increasingly leveled playing field between the races; for example, the difference in college enrollment rates for White and Black 18-to 24-year-olds has decreased from 8 percentage points in 2000 to 5 percentage points in 2018. At the very least, might these numbers suggest that we are headed in the right direction?

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March 01, 2021

Eldercare, Economics, and COVID-19

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

In 2019, I wrote about my mother-in-law’s struggles with isolation after losing her husband of 61 years. As you can imagine, the pandemic has only made this challenge more difficult.

Adding to the challenge of 2020 were two injuries she experienced, first a spinal compression fracture in January and a pelvic fracture after a fall in May. Both left her in need of constant care, which family members alone have been unable to provide. Fortunately, she has been able to afford—although not easily afford—the help of in-home caregivers.

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December 07, 2020

COVID Babies: Boom or Bust?

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

Back in April, there was speculation as to whether the coronavirus would lead to a baby boom, the premise being that people are home more than usual because of the pandemic, which could lead to an increase in baby- making activity. It was also thought that regular access to contraception might be interrupted.

However, at the time, sociologist Philip Cohen predicted a baby boom was highly unlikely, offering this explanation: "So even if a few people accidentally or on purpose decide to have a baby now, they will probably be outnumbered by the lost births from people meeting less, having sex with non-residential partners less and deciding now is not a good time."

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July 29, 2019

Social Isolation, Living Alone, and Aging

author  photoBy Karen Sternheimer

If you live alone, you do not necessarily experience social isolation. That’s a good thing, because social isolation can have adverse health effects, including cardiovascular disease, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Maybe you don’t live alone and would like to carve out more time to spend by yourself. If you live with family members or roommates, having time alone might be a rare treat. Even if you do live alone, you do not necessarily experience social isolation if you regularly spend time with friends, family, or others. Social engagement could be informal social time or involve participation in organized activities through community groups, religious groups, and so on. Work is another way in which we might be engaged with others regularly.

Social isolation impacts older people more, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. The older we get, the more of our waking hours are likely to be spent alone. People under 40 spend on average 3.5 hours a day alone, compared with 4.75 hours for those in their 40s and 50s. Adults over 60 spend an average of 7 hours alone.

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July 08, 2019

The Intersection between Biography, History, and Health

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

We often think about our health as profoundly personal, rooted in individual choices regarding what we eat, how much we exercise, and how well we comply with medical advice. Federal laws protect the privacy of our health information, and many people opt not to share information about their health with anyone but family and close friends (and sometimes not even with them), reinforcing the notion of health as personal.

And yet much of our health status is beyond our personal control, as I wrote about last year. Whether it is access to healthy food options, the time and space to exercise, or the availability of regular medical care, many aspects of our health are tied to public policy decisions and historical changes.

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December 10, 2018

The Definition of the Situation: Resisting Discussions of Death

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

A family member’s recent illness and passing highlighted a concept within micro sociology: the definition of the situation. This idea posits that situations come with social scripts that shape our behavior within any given context. How we define a situation guides our actions; sometimes our actions might seem strange if others around us define the situation differently. Put simply, people base their behavior on our understanding of events, and we generally ascribe meaning to these events based on our interactions with others.

Although he was 85-years-old and was being treated for lymphoma, a type of cancer, my father-in-law was healthy enough to play tennis this past August when he fell and broke his hip on the court. Our family defined this situation as a sports-related injury, albeit one with more risks due to his age and overall health status. It seemed that medical professionals defined his injury the same way too.

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