(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class [NOOK Book]

Overview

The first book to exclusively target the struggles of the professional middle class-educated individuals who purposely choose humanistic, intellectual, or creative pursuits-Nan Mooney's (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents is a simultaneously sobering and proactive work that captures a diversity of voices.

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with people all across America, (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents explores how stagnant wages, debt,...
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(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

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Overview

The first book to exclusively target the struggles of the professional middle class-educated individuals who purposely choose humanistic, intellectual, or creative pursuits-Nan Mooney's (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents is a simultaneously sobering and proactive work that captures a diversity of voices.

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 today's educated middle class. Teachers, counselors, nonprofit employees, environmentalists, journalists, and the author speak candidly about their sense of economic-and hence emotional-security, and their plans and fears about what's to come.

With up-to-date and accessible research, including a short history of the middle class, Mooney explains what it has meant historically to be middle class and how these definitions have changed so dramatically over the decades. She shows that social programs once aided the growth of this class but shifts in policies and labor practices-and increases in fixed costs, such as health care, housing, education, childcare, and household debt-are making it increasingly difficult for families to retain their middle-class status.

Throughout the book, Mooney uses real people's stories and an analysis of the new economic reality to put middle-class struggles in perspective: College tuition has increased 35 percent in the past five years, and while the average college undergraduate's debt is $20,000, earnings for graduates have remained stagnant since 2000. In addition, only 18 percent of middle-class families have three months' income saved, and 90 percent of those filing for bankruptcy are middle class. Finally, raising one child through age eighteen costs a middle-income family around $237,000, while the costs of housing, health care, and education are all rising faster than inflation.

Despite this difficult reality, Mooney offers concrete ideas on how individuals and society can arrest this downward spiral. Reigniting a sense of social responsibility is crucial-this ranges from improving government-backed education, health care, and childcare programs to drawing on successful models from individual states and other countries. Intimate personal accounts combined with Mooney's incisive analysis will make (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents resonate deeply for America's professional middle class.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

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: 9780807097496
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,236,366
  • File size: 328 KB

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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