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(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class Hardcover – May 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080701138X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807011386
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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.

From Booklist

Journalist Mooney discusses the financial plight of the educated professional middle class that graduated from a four-year college 2 to 20 years ago and earns annually between $30,000 and $70,000 ($100,000 for couples). They have freely chosen careers in education, the arts, and public service, with relatively low-paying jobs requiring high-cost education. These professionals face increasing mortgage payments, student loans, credit-card debt, less help with health care, retirement, and child care, while the cost of living increases and wages are stagnant. The author candidly acknowledges the influence of our materialistic values and the spending craze throughout America. With information from more than 100 interviews of diverse families, the author’s recommendations include improved government-backed education, health- and child-care programs, along with tax reform and an emphasis on changing society’s attitude toward money. Some may not agree with Mooney, but she gives an excellent analysis of the problems facing the professional middle class. --Mary Whaley

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Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
A smart, timely read.
Caroline S.
Only problem with this book is the loss of the middle class is much worse then this book indicates.
zz top
This is a really important book... I highly recommend it.
C. Dominguez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Martha Brockenbrough on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure what book the one-star reviewer read. In [Not] Keeping Up with Our Parents, Nan Mooney explains how life has gotten harder for middle-class professionals. While housing, health insurance, food and student loan costs have risen, incomes have not. What's more, social programs such as Social Security and corporate pension programs have dwindled. This means that people who've made reasonable decisions--to study, and to pursue responsible careers that interest them--are having a hard time making ends meet. One of her fundamental points is that the crunch isn't necessarily the individual's fault. It's not that we're frittering away our money on lattes. Rather, it's that life has gotten more expensive, and our incomes haven't kept up. It's an important book, and a timely one. Here's hoping as we reshape our country with the upcoming presidential election, that we elect leaders who want to keep the middle class dream alive.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Dominguez on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a really important book... I highly recommend it. It gives an enlightening perspective to our generation's career choices. Many of us struggle with our career choices. Should I choose a career path that I find socially responsible, creative, and fulfilling? Or should I choose a career that will provide my family financial stability and opportunities? It seems that our dream job should have all those aspects, but we often find ourselves having to make the choice. Nan's book analyzes how we got to the place we are at now. She uncovers all the uneasy topics and facts that we don't like to discuss at dinner table, much less barbecues or cocktail parties. I found the book to be very well rounded with thoughtful analysis with good practical recommendations for change.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LoneStarJeffe on August 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am older and clearly not the target audience for this book. I belong to the "parents" generation. But I feel it is important to provide feedback from my generation.

I respect Nan Mooney's research into clearly stating the current situation facing the next generation. This is not about dysfunctional people with poor decision making skills. It is not about lack of a work ethic. The situations she describes and the economic impact on those people are real and do not make for easy reading. Nor does she pretend there are easy answers to the problems she documents so well. Indeed, she recommends general improvements consisting of a mix of individual and social responsibility focusing on specific areas where challenges exist including health care, educational expenses, housing, and more while stating she has no absolute fixes for the problems these individuals are facing.

But I strongly believe the problems she is trying to fix are not the primary problem causing the situation. Thereis a growing world market and larger competition for the same middle class jobs. That is the reality I see as well and it is not discussed in this book. Perhaps, just perhaps, there are more people globally competing for the same jobs. If so, implementing the solutions suggested in this book only ease the pain but not address the root cause. Even if everything recommended in the book is implemented, we will continue to face increased global competition for middle class jobs. I would suggest use this book for understanding and appreciating the pain faced by so many struggling to live a middle class life today. However, I suggest looking for answers beyond what this book provides given I disagree on the real root cause. So, I recommend 3 out of 5 stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By V. Koos on June 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was quite fantastic. Growing up my friends and I were told that if we went to college and got "a good job" we would be able to own our own home and send our own children to college. Well, guess what? This has turned out to not be even remotely true. I think this book is very important and is addressing a problem that I see everywhere and yet does not seem to get talked about anywhere. The housing market collapse and resulting economic slowdown have just been icing on the cake. Thank you Nan Mooney for putting into words
the experience of the disappearance of the middle class.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Heather McFarlane on June 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My curiosity about (Not)Keeping Up With Our Parents was piqued after going to a reading by the author at a local bookstore. After reading it I was a bit shocked, but in a good way. I thought the interviews were well balanced and helped to shed light on this problem that many, many people have but are embarassed to talk about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caroline S. on June 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Nan Mooney strikes a cord with those in today's middle class. The real stories are fascinating. A smart, timely read. We all thought we'd find it easy to have a better live/make more money than our parents did. The reality isn't what we all expected. This book is full of great insights into the situation; I recommend it.
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