"Kids these days" often make jokes about their parents and grandparents telling stories that begin with "back in my day." But, how much has the world changed since their day?
With approximately 76 million people belonging to the Baby Boomer generation, that's a lot of people remembering how things were back in their days. And while everyone's story is different because people are all unique, there has always been a majority that has come to represent the average American. But change is the only constant in the world, and people have changed. What was life really like for the average American in the 1960s? What is that average American like now?
Was the 1960s the time for the Average Joe or the Average Jane? Is the current average American more or less educated than their '60s counterpart? Is living on the minimum wage easier now or was it easier then? Is today's average American more likely to own their own home than they would have been 50 years ago? Baby Boomers who love to talk about how things have changed, here's your chance to prove how much you know about those changes! Test your knowledge here to see if you can tell the difference between the John and Joan Q. Public of the 1960s and their children of the present day!
Yep, gender has always skewed slightly in favor of females in America. In the 1960s, the population was 51.5 percent female and 48.5 percent male. Today the split is 50.6 percent women and men 49.4%. Chin up, lads, the gap is closing!
Both men and women have gotten taller in the last 50 years, but only by an inch. The average 1960s male was 5 feet 8 inches and is now 5 feet 9 inches, while the average female has grown from 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet four inches.
Both men and women have put on weight as well as height over the years. In 1960, the average man weighed 166 lbs. and the average woman weighed 140 lbs. As of 2002, those figures were closer to 194 lb. males and 164 lb. females.
The average American in 1960 was 29, with men averaging an age of 28 and women an average of 30 years old. Today, the average man is 36 and the average woman is 38, for a combined average age of 37.
According to census data, 0-15-year-olds made up the largest section of the population, totaling 31.1 percent of the population. 15-24-year-olds accounted for 13.4 percent, 25-44-year-olds made up the second largest group with 26.2 percent, 20.1 percent of the population was 45-64-year-olds, and the over-65 crowd accounted for only 9.2 percent of the total US population.
You might think that the largest age bracket is those about to enter their twilight years, but it seems Gen X and the Oregon Trail Generation outnumber the Baby Boomers. As of the 2010 census, adults aged 25-44 make up the biggest chunk of the population at 30.2 percent.. 0-15-year-olds were 21.4 percent, 15-24-year-olds took up only 13.9 percent, 22 percent of the population were 45-64-year-olds, and those 65+ made up the smallest group of 12.4 percent.
In 1960, only 7.7 percent of adults had a college degree. Today, that number is nearly four times as much, with 28 percent of adults holding a degree.
In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, that number has dropped to 51 percent, but the stats don’t mention whether this includes divorces.
It’s no surprise that religion is far less prevalent in today’s society than it was in the past, but it might come as a surprise that it’s more prevalent than most might think. Only 14 percent of Americans today do not consider themselves religious. In the 1960s, this number was only 2 percent.
The days of baseball being “America’s game” ended decades ago. In the '60s, the sport was nearly twice as popular as football in 1960. Football dethroned baseball and is now four times more popular.
While more adults owned homes in the '60s, the age distribution means that more people overall own homes now. Sixty-two percent of Americans owned their homes in 1960 as opposed to the 67 percent who own their homes today.
It’s no surprise that the average American was more likely to be a smoker in the 1960s, as 40 percent of Americans said they regularly smoked cigarettes in 1969. Since only 22 percent of Americans now regularly smoke, they are almost twice as likely to be smokefree.
Whether it was the lack of a liquor store every other block, the lack of binge drinking culture, or simply the fact that no one talked about that kind of thing back then, only 12 percent of '60s Americans felt that alcohol caused trouble in their family. Today, that number has more than doubled to 30 percent.
The average family income in America in 1960 was $6,691. Adjusted for inflation, this is approximately $56,297.07. Sounds impressive, but as of 2015, the average family income in America was $67,565 (in case you were wondering, that’s $8357.06 in 1960 money.)
Not surprisingly, the number of women in the workforce has tripled since the 1960s. Only 22 percent of women had jobs, but now more than 66 percent of women are employed.
Only 13 percent of the workforce in 1960 was over the age of 55. Sadly, that percentage now is up to 35 percent.
In 1962, the average American household watched 5 hours and 6 minutes of TV a day. Today, the average tv consumption is 8 hours and 31 minutes.
The average American is now spending 25.5 minutes commuting to work, a slight increase from the 22.4 minutes spent in the 1960s. This may be due to the fact that they are driving further away. In the 1960s, 10 percent of workers lived within walking distance of work, but today only 2.8 percent of workers can walk to their jobs.
On average, '60s dads spent only 2.5 hours a week with their children, compared to the 7.3 hours a week spent by modern dads. Presumably this does not include nighttime when the kids are asleep or while the children are at school, which makes it a little less sad.
Despite the increase of working mothers and the boost in preschool enrollment, modern mothers actually spend more time with their children (13.5 hours) than their '60s counterparts (10.2 hours). While working moms became the norm in the '70s and '80s, modern times are seeing more women choose to be stay-at-home moms.
In the 1960s, only 13 percent of people chose to live at home after turning 18. Today, research indicates that number is closer to 24 percent. A Pew study states that “almost 1 in 4 adults aged 18-34 are living at home. This is due in large part to the high number of young people with student loan debt.
Ok, this one was pretty easy. Women did more housework in the 1960s, spending an average of 28 hours a week cleaning, compared to the four hours a week contributed by men.
We’ve come a long way, baby, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Men have almost doubled their housework efforts over the last 50 years and now contribute an average of 9 hours a week, but the bulk of the housework, an average 15 hours a week, is still done by women. In another 50 years, we should be about even.
Despite how politics has turned out over the last half a century, it seems that more than half the country was willing to support a qualified female candidate, were she to be nominated by her party. In 1963, 55 percent of Americans said they would be willing to support a female president. That number rose to 88 percent in 2007.
In 1960, 65 percent of children lived in a household where their parents were married, their mom stayed home to raise them, and their dad was the breadwinner. That number dropped significantly over the years and as of 2012 was down to 22 percent. Experts project it will drop even lower as time goes on.
In 1960, 1 child in every 350 lived with a mother who had never been married, which works out to approximately 0.28 percent. By 2012, 22 percent of kids lived with a single mom, half of which had ever been married.
In 1968, the Big Mac cost $0.49, which is $3.51 in today’s money. Consider that a Big Mac now costs $3.99, I’d say we were better off back then.
In 1965, the average life expectancy was 70.2 years old. In 2015, it was calculated to be at 79.3 years old. Enjoy those extra nine years, folks!
Yep, beleive it or not, when adjusted for inflation, minimum wage in the 1960s is worth more than minimum wage now. The federal minimum wage in 1967 was $1.40/hour, which is equivalent to $8.61 in 2007, the last time the minimum wage was raised in United States. In 2007, Congress voted to raise the minimum wage to $7.25, although employers had until 2009 to begin this pay increase.
In 1965, the standard retirement age was 65 years old (although many retired sooner). As of 2015, the standard age is 66, which is “The earliest age workers may statutorily receive Social Security benefits and Medicare. Retirement Age in the US The age will increase to 67 by 2027.”
According to the 1960 census, the population identified as 88.6 percent white, 10.5 percent black, 0.5 percent Asian or Pacific, and 0.4% percent Native American. The 2010 census reported that 72.4 percent of the population is now white, 12.6 percent is black, 5% is Asian or Pacific, 0.9 percent is Native American, 2.9 percent is mixed, and 6.2 percent is “other.” In a separate question, the census asks if the respondent is Hispanic or not; in 2010, 16.3 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino.
Possibly because of how many large states are included, the South remains the most populated region in the US. In 1960 15.6 percent of the population lived in the American West, 30.7 percent in the south, 28.8 percent called the Midwest home, and 24.9 percent braved the winters of the northeast. By 2000, things were a little more spread out with the divide ending up at 22.5 percent west, 35.6 percent south, 22.9 percent midwest, and 19 percent northeast.
Sales of the 1965 Impala and Impala SS in that year totaled 1,074,925 units, a record yet to be eclipsed. After the energy crisis of the '70s, and the onset of a global society, Chevy, Ford, and GM all got pushed aside for Asian-made cars. In 1997, the Toyota Camry became the best selling car of the year, a title it has held every year since (with the exception of 2001, which it was temporarily overthrown by the Honda Accord).
In 2017, 10 percent of the US population identified as vegetarian or vegan, but in the 1960s, American vegetarians accounted for less than 1 percent of the population. While there were some vegetarians, particularly in the Counter Culture, meat was still seen as a luxury item or a status symbol after the veggie-heavy wartime rations, so vegetarianism didn’t really begin to catch on in the states until the mid-1970s.
JFK and LBJ carried the nation through a wave of Democratic pride in the 1960s, and Obama did the same for the 2010s. The Republican party was strongest during the '70s and '80s.