American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
December 2006

Demographic Trend of the Year

4. New for Fall 2006: The all new AMERICAN SEXUAL BEHAVIOR, and updates of BEST CUSTOMERS, HOUSEHOLD SPENDING, and the popular WHO’S BUYING REPORTS



Of the 4 million babies born in the United States each year, nearly 1 million are born to Hispanics.


Demographic Trend of the Year Award

Move over Academy Awards, Grammies, Emmys, Tony Awards, Nobel Prizes, and Time Magazine Man of the Year. Make room for the Demographic Trend of the Year Award, given in recognition of the demographic trend that has caused the most consternation during the past twelve months (proving once and for all that demography is not dull). Not wanting to keep anyone in suspense, we are announcing herewith the winner of the 2006 award: The Hispanic Population.

The Hispanic Population consists of the 43 million residents of the United States whose country of birth or ancestry is one of the Spanish-speaking nations of the world. The Hispanic Population has official Washington in a fence-building furor, and its impact on Lou Dobbs’s ratings has been nothing short of phenomenal. The relatively traditional lifestyle of Hispanics is confusing the pundits and has set off another round of debate about whether women are returning to the home. Even small town America is jumping into the fray, sparring with the constitution by enacting laws that make life even more difficult for undocumented immigrants–most of whom are Hispanic.

The Hispanic Population wins the Demographic Trend of the Year Award after sweeping all five Demographic Melodrama categories. Here is a run-down of the results:

1. Fastest Growing Demographic Segment
Between 2000 and 2005, The Hispanic Population grew by an enormous 21 percent. At the same time, the number of non-Hispanic whites increased by a miniscule 1 percent.

2. Demographic Segment Getting the Biggest Bang for the Buck
The Hispanic Population accounts for only 14 percent of the total U.S. population. Because of its strategic location, however, its influence is far greater than a 14 percent share. In California and Texas, the two most-populous states, Hispanics are fully 35 percent of the population, which amplifies their influence.

3. Demographic Segment with the Greatest Reach
The age structure of The Hispanic Population makes it a powerhouse in the all-important youth market. The median age of The Hispanic Population is just 27 compared with a median age of 40 for non-Hispanic whites. Because of their relative youth, Hispanics account for a disproportionate share of newborns (nearly one in four), public elementary schoolchildren (one in five), and workers in many entry-level jobs. Thirty-eight percent of the nation’s construction laborers are Hispanic.

4. Demographic Segment Confusing the Most Pundits
The talking heads who yearn for a return to the traditional family are touting signs of its comeback, but they are being fooled by the statistical impact of The Hispanic Population on the nation’s demographic trends. Example: Between 2000 and 2005, the number of newborns who were third- or higher-order births increased by more than 50,000. Hispanics, with their large families, account for the entire increase. Similarly, the small decline in the labor force participation rate of young women over the past few years does not herald a return of the stay- at-home mom but is a consequence of the relatively low labor force participation rate of Hispanic women. Among women aged 20 to 24, only 63 percent of Hispanics work compared with 72 percent of non-Hispanic whites. As Hispanics constitute an ever-growing share of young adults, the labor force participation rate of young women is slipping.

5. Demographic Segment Enraging the Most Politicians
Yes, the political battle is over immigrants, not The Hispanic Population. But with Hispanics accounting for 51 percent of immigrants and an even larger share of the undocumented, they have become the political target du jour. The consequence is not just fence building along our border with Mexico, but an effort to make English the official language (Arizona became the 28th state to do so in the November election), federally mandated limits on Medicaid coverage for newborns (who are automatically U.S. citizens) until their immigrant parents file an application to “prove” their child’s citizenship status, and laws enacted by communities across the country to penalize landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants or employers who hire them.

After sweeping all five Demographic Melodrama categories, The Hispanic Population is the hands-down winner of The Demographic Trend of the Year Award. For all the 2006 runners-up– The Gays, The Single Mothers, Boomers Who Refuse to Save for Retirement, and Young Adults Who Spend Too Much Time Texting Their Friends, mark your calendar for the 2007 awards competition, and better luck next time.

By Cheryl Russell, editorial director, New Strategist Publications
If you have any questions or comments about the above editorial, e-mail New Strategist at



Hispanics spend 43 percent more than the average household on milk.

2. Q & A

What is the life expectancy of the red kangaroo?

OK, no one really asked us this question. But some well-known demographers have asked the question, and answered it. Their findings are too interesting to ignore. Analyzing the International Species Information System, a dataset from a network of about 650 zoos around the world, demographers Iliana V. Kohler, Samuel H. Preston, and Laurie Bingaman Lackey calculated the life expectancy of 42 species, most of them mammals. They published the results in the article, “Comparative mortality levels among selected species of captive animals,” in the online peer-reviewed journal Demographic Research ( Vol15/14/default.htm).

The researchers examined age-specific mortality rates of zoo animals over a five-year period, including bald eagles, crocodiles, gorillas, kangaroos, lions, and tigers. One of the more interesting findings is the fact that “wild-born animals do not have mortality that differs significantly from captive-born animals.” Another is that among groups of species, “Apes have the highest life expectancy (expected number of additional years of life) at all ages and kangaroos the lowest.” At birth, gorillas have a life expectancy of 23.3 years, according to the study. Thirty-one percent of gorillas survive to age 40. Life expectancy at birth for crocodiles is 14.6 years. Bald eagles can expect to live a shorter 13.2 years, tigers 9.6 and lions only 6.4 years. The unlucky red kangaroo has a life expectancy at birth of just 6.0 years.

If you have any questions or comments about the above Q & A, e-mail New Strategist at


College graduates spend more than twice as much as the average household on books and control 60 percent of the market.


To keep up-to-date on ever-changing demographics and lifestyles, check out these useful web addresses.

The Sandwich Generation 2006/09/art1abs.htm
There has been a lot of talk about the “sandwich generation,” those who care for aging parents and dependent children at the same time. But until now there has been little data showing the size and characteristics of those caught in the middle. Now there is. An in-depth analysis of the number of people sandwiched between young and old appears in the September 2006 issue of the Monthly Labor Review and is accessible at the above web site. The results show that 33 percent of women aged 45 to 56 can be considered sandwiched based on one of the study’s definitions. You are an ingredient in the sandwich if you live with an elderly parent, or you have an elderly parent in a nursing facility, or you provide a parent with at least $200 in financial aid or 100 hours of help per year. And, at the same time, you live with a child under age 21 or have a child in college, or you give a child at least $200 or 100 hours of help a year.

2006 Health Confidence Survey
More than half of Americans are “not too” or “not at all” satisfied with the cost of health insurance, according to the 2006 Health Confidence Survey, an annual survey of Americans’ attitudes toward health care sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates. The Health Confidence Survey, accessible at the above URL, has been fielded annually since 1998. During those years the percentage of people rating the American health care system as poor has more than doubled–rising from 15 to 31 percent. Overall, 59 percent of the public say the health care system is only fair or poor. Rising health care costs have resulted in reduced saving for retirement and difficulty in paying for basic necessities. Most workers with health care benefits rate them as more important than cash.



Among unmarried men aged 15 to 44, number of opposite-sex partners with whom they have had sexual intercourse in the past year: 1.3.

4. NEW FOR FALL 2006

NEW TITLE: American Sexual Behavior: Demographics of Sexual Activity, Fertility, and Childbearing is a groundbreaking new title that brings you the facts about reproductive health and family formation in the United States. Its eleven chapters cover sexual initiation and orientation, AIDS and STDs, cohabitation and marriage, fertility and infertility, pregnancy, births, caring for children, and much more. ($89.95; ISBN 978-1-933588-09-4)

NEW EDITION: The fourth edition of Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand reveals the best customers for hundreds of products and services ranging from alcoholic beverages to gasoline, bedroom linens, and cell phone service. It identifies which households spend the most on a product or service and which control the largest share of spending. ($89.95; ISBN 978-1-933588-06-3)

NEW EDITION: The eleventh edition of the annual Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What gives you detailed analyses of consumer spending on hundreds of products and services by the demographics that count–age, income, household type, region of residence, race and Hispanic origin, and education. The book begins with an overview chapter, then goes on to examine spending on apparel, entertainment, financial products and services, food and beverages, gifts, health care, household operations, shelter and utilities, transportation, personal care, reading, education, and tobacco. ($94.95; ISBN 978-1-933588-05-6)

NEW EDITIONS: The updated Who’s Buying Series, which is based on the new eleventh edition of Household Spending, gives you even more demographic detail about how much Americans spend by the demographics that count–age, income, household type, race and Hispanic origin, region of residence, and education. To round out the spending picture, you also get “who are the best customers” analyses of the data.

  • Who’s Buying Apparel, 2nd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-08-7)
  • Who’s Buying Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Beverages, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-11-7)
  • Who’s Buying Entertainment, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-12-4)
  • Who’s Buying Groceries, 4th ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-13-1)
  • Who’s Buying Health Care, 3rd ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-14-8)
  • Who’s Buying Household Furnishings, Services, and Supplies, 4th ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-15-5)
  • Who’s Buying Information, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-08-7)
  • Who’s Buying for Pets, 4th ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-17-9)
  • Who’s Buying by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2nd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-18-6)
  • Who’s Buying at Restaurants and Carry-Outs, 4th ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-19-3)
  • Who’s Buying Transportation, 3rd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-20-9)
  • Who’s Buying for Travel, 3rd ed. ($49.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-21-6)
  • Who’s Buying: Executive Summary of Household Spending, 2nd ed. ($59.95; ISBN 1-978-933588-22-3)

You can order online (where you can also see tables of contents and sample pages) at Or call toll free 800/848-0842 (or 607/273-0913), fax your order to 607/277-5009, or mail your order to New Strategist Publications, P.O. Box 242, Ithaca, NY 14851.



Rank of cable service among entertainment products and services on which households spend the most: 1.