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Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead Paperback – January 9, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Draut's thesis is simple: making a living and becoming an "adult" according to certain criteria (education, house, baby) is drastically more expensive now than it was several decades ago. Since the 70s, American productivity has skyrocketed and wages have flatlined or regressed. Let's face it, an undergraduate degree is the modern day equivalent of what the high school diploma used to be.
Instead of questioning why this might be the case (uh, health insurance anyone?), some folks want to put the blame squarely on the (not just young) people who get hit with these costs--"the me generation," "entitlement," and the mother of all conservative memes, "personal responsibility." Hey, individual choice and systemic change AREN'T the same thing.
Draut doesn't argue that people should spend beyond their means, or not try to pinch pennies to survive. Instead, she looks at the damage caused by "free market fundamentalism": disintegrating social cohesion, rigidifying class mobility, a health care catastrophe, the casualization of the workforce ("contingent workers make up 33% of the workforce") etc. "Today," she writes writes, "In the midst of historic income inequality, our nation's primary engine of social mobility, education, is broken."
"Back in 1972, the typical male high school graduate earned just $42,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars," she writes elsewhere, "Three decades later, male high school graduates in this age group [25-34] are earning just over $29,000.Read more ›
It is far more expensive to pursue education in the US than it is in the UK because there are no private schools in the UK and the government caps tuition heavily to prevent an economic elite. Although there are problems related to class and race distinction, a student would not be rejected because of an inability to pay; the colleges are simply not permitted to charge their students tens of thousands of dollars a year to gain a degree. We still end up in debt to some degree because of high living costs but the loan companies are again regulated by the government to prevent high interest rates, the payments are deferred until the student is in full time work and the payments are percentage proportional to earnings. i.e. you pay back what you can afford.
As a 30 year old Brit married to a 35 year old American and living in DC, we are the epitome of the GenX demographic. The big difference is that we took a very different path from the examples described in Draut's book. Gaining my degree in the UK I was stunned at the total lack of guidance that young adults are given in America.Read more ›
As a former college professor (currently a career/business consultant) who attended undergraduate school in the 1960s, I agree with readers who question the responsibility of these students. As a professor, I found that students at non-elite universities tend to bring expectations that were foreign to their Boomer predecessors. For example, I know a college student whose parents sacrificed to send him to a private college. He returned home several times a year -- mostly flying to avoid a long drive or bus ride. My classmates would go home for Christmas - period.
In general, college students actually seem to receive less value for their education, unless they attend an elite Ivy-level university. One study found they watch television more than they study.
And many have adopted elements of lifestyles that used to be open only to the very wealthy. When I was in college, I don't remember getting manicures, let alone pedicures, waxing and highlights. Cable television? Our dorm had one television for several hundred young women. Cell phones? One phone on each floor, serving 20-30 students. Now my friends call their college-age children two or three times a day.
I'd also take a look at rising college costs. Professors no longer work for slave wages (unless they're part-timers - another story) and in fact business school and law professors do quite well. Administrators earn considerably more -- but that's another story.
Maintenance costs have risen for everyone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tamara Draut’s book, with the subtitle Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead, posits that college loans, a more difficult job market, credit card debt, home costs,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gregory A. Dreher
I am glad this book was on my list of required books for Labor and Economics class. I learned a lot from it and it made me critically thinking about how the economy has impact... Read morePublished 14 months ago by andy_rocks1991
Wa wa wa let me complIan the Government is doing enough for me.
And it goes on like this for many chapters.
Forced to read for college course.
The author of Strapped, presents fantastic data that paints a picture of how deregulation of corporate america and ineffective politicians has eroded the financial security for... Read morePublished on July 10, 2013 by Thom
I was required to read this book in my college sociology class and only learned what not to do. A book written from a 'victim' standpoint constantly tries to convince the reader... Read morePublished on August 26, 2012 by Dissapointed
Don't get me wrong, the book is well researched and goes a long way toward dispelling the notion that "our generation" is failing because we are lazy and spoiled. Read morePublished on August 9, 2009 by seveer
This book will not be well received by folks whom social scientists refer to as methodological individualists, people who hold that all explanations of social behavior and... Read morePublished on June 7, 2009 by not a natural