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To the Editors of American Demographics:

My colleague and I are looking for statistics on May/December relationships. Our focus is cohabiting couples where the woman is at least 5 years older than the man. Can you tell us how many couples meet these criteria in the United States, in the Southeast region of the country and specifically in South Carolina? Any help you could give us would be appreciated.

Lynn Thompson

University of Central Florida

Titusville, Fla.

Dear Lynn:

The good news is that there is data available on May/December relationships for the country as a whole. However, figures are not available for targeted geographic areas.

According to Lynne Casper, a health scientist administrator at the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development and a former employee of the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 3.8 million cohabiting couples — 7.6 million individuals — in the U.S. as of March 2000. Of those couples who were living together but not legally wed, 9.1 percent (349,000 couples) were pairings in which the woman was 6 or more years older than the man, and an additional 12 percent (460,000 duos) were couples in which the woman was 2 to 5 years older than her male partner. A significantly smaller share of married women, only 12.3 percent (7 million women) are 2 or more years older than their husband, including just 3.3 percent (1.9 million women) who have 6 or more years on their spouse.

But if it's a Mrs. Robinson that you're looking for, don't rule out married couples altogether. That's because women on their second marriage are significantly more likely than women married only once to have a husband who is younger than they are. (Coincidentally, men are also more likely to take a younger bride on their second trip down the aisle.) In fact, 7 percent of women married more than once have a husband 6 or more years younger than themselves, compared with approximately 1 percent of women who are still hitched to their first hubby. Another 14 percent of women on their second marriage have a husband 2 to 5 years younger.

Because this data comes from the Current Population Survey, which is a sample of the entire U.S. population and not an actual enumeration like the decennial census, it is not possible to obtain figures on May/December relationships in the Southeast, in South Carolina or in any other region or state in the country. Casper says that the relatively small percentage of the population involved in this type of relationship makes projections to smaller levels of geography scientifically unstable. If you absolutely must have these numbers, you could always try hanging around the local video store to see who's renting The Graduate.


To the Editors of American Demographics:

Could you please provide me with some statistics on Generation Y's musical tastes? I'm particularly interested in the differences between the listening habits of urban kids and suburban kids as well as differences by race and ethnicity.

Yoolee Seo

Ewha Womans University

New York, N.Y.

Dear Yoolee:

Twice a year, Northbrook, Ill.-based market research firm Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) asks teens, ages 12 to 19, a battery of questions, including: Which two types of radio stations do you listen to most often? According to the latest survey of 2,051 teens conducted last June and July and released in October, current hits and hip-hop/rap are by far the two most popular genres, preferred by 50 percent and 42 percent, respectively, of all teens. Coming in at No. 3 is rhythm & blues, a favorite format of 22 percent of teens, followed closely by alternative radio and hard rock/heavy metal, both of which are favored by 19 percent of all young listeners.

Of course, where teens live and the color of their skin have an enormous impact on the type of music they prefer. For starters, white and Hispanic teens are 1.5 times more likely than black teens to regularly tune in to current hits on the radio. Likewise, black teens are 1.5 times more likely than Hispanic teens, and twice as likely as white teens, to listen to hip-hop or rap music. In fact, 71 percent of the black teens surveyed said they most often listen to a hip-hop or rap station, compared with just 46 percent of the Hispanic respondents and 34 percent of the whites who said the same.

Hip-hop and rap are also favorites of urban listeners: Whereas 50 percent of teens living in the city say they regularly listen to hip-hop or rap, only 40 percent of kids in the suburbs and 38 percent of country kids report they prefer this genre. Rhythm & blues is also significantly more popular in downtown neighborhoods than it is elsewhere.

Outside of the urban core, suburban and rural teens are more likely than urban kids to have an alternative station preset on their stereos. Twenty-one percent of teens who live in either the 'burbs or the country say they like to listen to alternative music, compared with only 15 percent of urban teenagers who say the same.

The farther you get from downtown, the more likely you are to find a teen listening not only to country music but to classic rock as well. According to the TRU survey, 7 percent of urban kids and 10 percent of suburban kids are fans of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the like, but 12 percent of rural teens say they prefer to listen to classic rock. Of course, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill still dominate these parts, with 1 in 5 rural teenagers saying they listen to country music, compared with just 11 percent of teens in town.

In the future, geography and proximity to a broadcast tower may have less of an impact on musical tastes. According to Simmons Market Research Bureau, 15 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 say they listen to the radio online. And surprisingly, girls are more likely to tune in to a radio station via the computer than are boys. Boy bands from Europe, take note.


Percent of teen who selected the following as one of their two top radio genres:

Current hits 50%
Hip-hop/rap 42%
R&B 22%
Alternative 19%
Hard rock/heavy metal 19%
Country 14%
Classic rock 10%
Christian 10%
Oldies 8%
Dance/techno 6%
Soft rock/easy listening 5%
All-sports 4%
Spanish-language 3%
Jazz 2%
All-news 2%
Source: Teenage Research Unlimited


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