This has been a year of the young. The protesters against racial injustice have mostly been in their 20s. The average age of demonstrators arrested since mid-June in Portland, Oregon (one of the centres of activity) was 28. The young have not suffered as much as others from covid-19 itself but were hardest hit by the consequences of the virus. More than half of those between 18 and 29 lost a job or took a significant pay cut in April, or live in a household where that has happened. About two-fifths of those aged 50 to 64 have experienced the same thing. Young people are the most likely to work in jobs vulnerable to closure, such as waitressing or retail.
And 2020 will be a year of the young in one more important respect. Electorally, it will be the last stand of the baby-boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the first poll in which voting will be dominated by generations younger than 40, especially millennials, defined here as those born between 1981 and 1996. As Bill Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, puts it: “America is moving from largely white, baby-boomer-dominated politics and culture in the second half of the 20th century to a more racially diverse country fuelled by younger generations: millennials, Gen z-ers and their juniors.”