New Jersey is led by a bunch of old, white men, study says
The New Jersey Legislature is made up of a bunch of old, white men according to a new Stockton University study.
Those running New Jersey don't look much like the population they represent, according to the study — not in terms of race, education, age or gender.
"The legislature is older, more male, less racially and ethnically diverse, better educated, more professional or white collar, and more likely to have served in the military than the general population," the study's authors wrote.
• The median age in New Jersey is 39, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. It's 53 in the legislature, with 73 percent of members 50 or older, according to Stockton.
- Statewide, only 36 percent of adults 35 years or older have a bachelor's degree or higher — compared to 85 percent of those in the legislature. Nearly two-thirds of those in the legislature have graduate degrees; just 14 percent of residents do.
- About 9 percent of New Jerseyans are Asian; just two percent of legislators are. The state's largely white — 69 percent of residents, but whites are still over-represented, with 83 percent of the legislature. But black representation in the legislature actually outpaces the general population — 15 percent compared to 14 percent.
- Hispanics account for 19 percent of the state pollution, and just 9 percent of the legislature (note: Hispanic is a cultural designation, not a racial one).
- 56 percent of the legislature works in so-called white-collar fields; just 21 percent of the general population does.
- More than 21 percent of New Jersey residents are foreign-born. Only 2 percent of legislators are.
- About half the the state's population is male, half female. But 70 percent of legislators are men.
The study's authors said they weren't looking to pass judgment on "whether certain variations are 'good' or 'bad' for representative democracy."
People might find under-serving women or minority populations problematic, they said. But it might be a good thing if those making decisions in government are better-educated than average, the study's authors said.
"This analysis leaves those kinds of interpretations to others, and strives simply to show factually whether and how the Legislature differs demographically from the population it represents," they wrote.
In a statement quoted by PolitickerNJ.com Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families, blamed high barriers to voter participation for the disparities, saying they screen out "low-income people, younger people, and people of color. As a result, a narrow segment of New Jersey elects leaders who work for special interests instead of their constituents, further disheartening voters and turning them away from the ballot box. Call it a cycle of disengagement.”
Louis C. Hochman is digital managing editor for NJ1015.com. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @LouisCHochman.