(Not) Keeping up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

Overview

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with people all across America, (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents explores how stagnant wages, debt, and escalating costs for tuition, health care, and home ownership are jeopardizing the finances and futures of today's educated middle class. Despite this sobering reality, Nan Mooney offers concrete ideas on how we can arrest this downward spiral.
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(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

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Overview

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with people all across America, (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents explores how stagnant wages, debt, and escalating costs for tuition, health care, and home ownership are jeopardizing the finances and futures of today's educated middle class. Despite this sobering reality, Nan Mooney offers concrete ideas on how we can arrest this downward spiral.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Think it can't happen to you? Read Mooney's book . . . . then think again . . . An alarming and important book, which should bring readers out of ignorance, embarrassment or bewilderment and into harsh enlightenment.-—Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Seattle Times

"An excellent analysis of the problems facing the large and important professional middle class."—Booklist

"With great empathy and infectious alarm, Nan Mooney charts the travails of America's middle class in this important book."—Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt

"If you're wondering why, in our age of plenty, the financial treadmill keeps moving faster and faster for America's increasingly educated-and increasingly insecure-middle class, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It's all here: the big trends, the compelling portraits, the ideas for personal and political change, and the call to arms we so desperately need." —Jacob S. Hacker, author of The Great Risk Shift

"We hear a lot about the runaway wealth of American professionals. In this important book, Nan Mooney reminds us that most have no such luck. Working in jobs they love provides a sense of moral worth but doesn't cover the bills for teachers, legal aid lawyers, practicing artists, and others. Something has gone wrong in America, and this book gives us a grip on the crisis." —Katherine Newman, coauthor of The Missing Class and the Forbes Class of 1941 Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton

Publishers Weekly
Young people who were raised to believe that a college education guarantees them a spot in the middle class are instead grappling with rising levels of debt, stagnant wages and ballooning basic expenses, argues Mooney (I Can't Believe She Did That) in this affecting but thinly researched jeremiad. Mooney suggests that college graduates who choose creative or service professions, such as journalism, teaching and social work, generally find themselves in low-paying jobs that, paradoxically, require high-priced educations and even graduate degrees. The struggle to pay off student loans sets off a spiral of financial insecurity, as these educated professionals face escalating costs for housing, health insurance and child care. It's an interesting observation, but Mooney often doesn't delve deeply enough to create a true thesis; she does not fully examine the expectations that motivate graduates' decisions to choose to teach-their desire for meaningful work even at the expense of upward mobility-or their reluctance to leave expensive urban areas. Where Mooney backs up her points with solid research, she makes persuasive arguments, but she occasionally offers unsubstantiated generalizations and relies on research culled from interviews rather than hard data. For a more comprehensive treatment of this sobering trend, readers should turn to Warren and Tyagi's The Two-Income Trap or Up to Our Eyeballs, by analysts from liberal think tank Demos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807011393
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nan Mooney is the author of I Can't Believe She Did That: Why Women Betray Other Women at Work and My Racing Heart: The Passionate World of Thoroughbreds and the Track. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Slate, The Daily News, The Daily Telegraph (UK), The Seattle Weekly, Women's eNews, and various other publications.

Her books have been featured in Elle, O, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Daily News, Salon and USA Today, among others, She has also appeared on NPR (Marketplace, Morning Edition, Only a Game), The Joan Hamburg Show, Voice of America and numerous local radio and TV shows. Having worked in the film and publishing industries, she is currently a free lance writer and can be reached through her website, www.nanmooney.com. She lives in Seattle.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 The New Reality 1

2 From the New Deal to the New Economy: A Short History of the American Middle Class 19

3 College Promises: Real Debt and False Expectations 41

4 Career and Contribution: Society or the 401(k)? 61

5 To Have or to Hold: Money, Marriage, and Children 83

6 What Were the Benefits?: Health Care, Retirement, and Everything Else the Government Was Supposed to Help Provide 113

7 Bridging the Gaps: Saving, Spending, and Debt 141

8 A Question of Equity: Rent Rich or House Poor 163

9 From Ripples to Revolution: Changing the System, Changing Ourselves 197

Acknowledgments 217

Notes 219

Bibliography 231

Index 243

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    A terrific GenX non-fiction book

    A very important and informative Gen X book, filled with facts interwoven with interviews of people. The book really sang to me the way few other non-fiction books have recently. Mooney correctly predicted that the housing bubble couldn't go on forever, and she discusses how some parents will still be paying off their college loans while their kids are off at college. I thought the last chapter was a tad too preachy, but I read it quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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