A major issue currently effecting culture, population, and demographics is that of wealth inequality. As the global economic downturn continues throughout the world, wealth disparity is increasing rapidly. This affects culture, population, and overall demographics in a litany of ways. First, due primarily to lower wages, families are postponing child birth. The uncertainty surrounding the future creates an atmosphere of fear. Families are now waiting until the economic climate becomes more certain before they have their children. Furthermore, the median income for middle class families has plummeted within the last 3 years. The median income for the average American household was roughly $51,000 in 2008. Now the median income is roughly $48,000. This creates problems as families are less apt to spend money are discretionary activities that form the basis of their culture. Holiday spending, for example has yet to reach its 2007 heights. Families are now more frugal and as a result, certain activities that define a particular culture are being eliminated or postponed. All of this is creating a wealth disparity throughout the world that has never been seen since the great depression. Record levels of debt and unemployment combined with lower wages only contributes to this phenomenon. It is my contention that education is the fundamental cause of this culture and population issue. Proper education can help alleviate and avoid many of the pitfalls that society has subsequently suffered with. Through proper education, the issue of wealth disparity can be solved. Particularly in emerging markets, a growing middle class can help abate the influences of this cultural and demographic problem. I believe the education system within many developed nations is fundamentally flawed, which contributes to our growing problem of wealth inequality. Riots in the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street in America, China's economic slowdown, and Japan's 20-year stagnant growth, have affected both the population and the subsequent culture of those nations. Through proper education, many of these issues can be alleviated.
To begin, the problem of educational inequality has been a conundrum plaguing American society for decades. How is it that our international counterparts in Asia are educating their children in grades K-12 better than us, yet we have the best Universities in the world? Extensive tests reveal that in many subjects (particularly math) many Asian students are outperforming their American equivalents. This is in part due to the fact that Asian countries are collectivistic in nature. The community at large has a vested stake in the education of its younger children. As a result, the community helps in both education and corrective action. America is individualistic however. In many instances, we simply look out for our own constituents irrespective of how that action might affect others. This concept can be applied to American education as we often only care about our own children without regard to how other children will affect the world we like in. Many individuals are simply content with putting individuals in jail as oppose to helping educate them as a community for example.
Experts agree that education is a determining factor to the overall wealth of an individual in any society. As the income disparity between the wealthy and middle class becomes more profound, more education will be subsequently needed (Breaden, 2004). The problem of educational inequality has been a difficult aspect for society in general to overcome. Alarming statistics provide an illuminating perspective in regards to African-American and Latino children. For one, they are lacking behind their Asian and White counterparts in most metrics of academic success (Greene, 2002). This ultimately affects their underlying culture. Many children, especially those within the African-American and Latino do not have access to the same quality educational facilities and teacher as do their white counterparts. Extensive tests reveal that in many subjects many Asian students both abroad and domestically are outperforming their American counterparts ("Department of Education" 2009). This is in part due to the fact that Asian countries are collectivistic in nature. The community at large has a vested stake in the education of its younger children which has a profound impact on their overall achievement levels. This is a direct result of their culture. As a result, the community helps in both education and corrective action in regards to education. This helps to establish a high quality standard for those individuals that are lagging behind their peers. This expectation of success coupled with community involvement in regards to education creates an environment in which children can flourish. Many would not dispute that America is a country based on individualistic values. In many instances, we simply avoid the thought of community involvement and instead elect to provide for our own well-being. There is no dispute as to the merits of providing for ones own well-being. It is my contention however, that some thought must be placed on community endeavors in order for society at large to benefit. This theory can be applied to any country with an education centered on individual merit. As mentioned above these communities often care only for their own children without regard to how the ineptitude of other children will affect the communities in which they interact with one a daily basis. In particular African-American and Latin Americans bare the brunt of our broken education system. In regards to any performance metric, African-Americans and Latinos are near the bottom (George, 2004). For example, not only do these two races have the highest high school drop out rates, they also have the highest prevalence of incarceration rates (Delpit, 2001, p.203-211). This ultimately affects the culture of these two demographics in negative ways. In America's individualistic society, many individuals are simply content with putting individuals in jail as oppose to helping educate them as a community for example. Changes will need to take place in order to keep America more competitive in regards to its students and educational facilities.
To elaborate on this point I will venture back to early Chinese history and in particular, that of farming. In china, the main cultivated crop was that of rice. In fact, rice provided much of the economic prosperity within China and its neighboring countries for many years ( Rice Culture, 2011). Rice farming unlike its western counterpart of corn and wheat is very tedious and time consuming. In addition rice, requires much more attention to detail for the crop to manifest itself in a manner that benefits society. The difference between the amount of water and soil used could be the difference between a great harvest and no harvest at all. If there is no harvest, then many Chinese would simply not eat. In contrast, American farmers didn't necessary need to pay too much attention to every minuscule detail to the extent the Chinese had to (History of American Agriculture, 2011). They simply planted crops. If farmers wanted to be more efficient, they simply bought more equipment to do the necessary job. I'm by no means downplaying the work of early farming pioneers in building the foundation of this nation. I instead applaud their efforts. However, when juxtaposed again the requirements to maintain rice crops, clearly, the Chinese had to conduct more tedious work. Rice fields are etched into mountain sides or painstaking constructed in river plains. Rice agriculture was a family affair. As a result, family coordination within China was deeply needed for success. Cooperation and coordination was needed on all levels for a grand harvest and economic prosperity. Slave labor would not work in China primarily because; you must have a vested stake in the harvest. If not, mistakes will be made that will subsequently ruin and destroy the entire crop. If the crop is destroyed by slave mistakes, the slaves are in no position to lose anything as they were already slaves to begin with. Now in America, slaves were used simply to provide manually labor due primarily because there was no need for coordinated effort on the party of the slave owner with the slave. The slave's duty was simply to provide a service. Once that service was rendered the slave would be either replaced or killed. There was no worry, as a slave could easily be replaced.
Now looking back on both descriptions of early farming, a quite alarming and realistic picture arises as to our cultural differences in both western and eastern countries. Eastern countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, etc., all have a collectivistic nature. They work together to achieve educational, company and corporate objectives. They are generally concerned with others well-being and will go the extreme lengths to provide that help. It is exactly the same as it was many years earlier with ancient Chinese farmers. In that period, as it is today, a team of individuals will work together as a unit as oppose to individuals. It was used in farming and it is still used today. As a result more individuals have a vested interest in the group's overall goals, thus heightening retention rates