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Declining Fortunes: The Withering of the American Dream Hardcover – May, 1993

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046501593X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465015931
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,971,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Being a child of baby-boomers, I found this book extrememly informative and helpful in understanding the complexity of achieving the American dream. Newman does a wonderful job at exploring the lives of the population in a small town, both the post-war parents and their baby-boomer children. The struggles they have to endure throughout their lives led to a much better understanding to what life really means to different people all around the U.S.. I would highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
It's unfortunate that Newman's Declining Fortunes has stopped selling. When I used it as one among several monographs in an introductory social science course aimed at students from other disciplines, more than a few told me that, after reading it, they felt less to blame for their unexpectedly modest attainments. Newman, in effect, compares the lives of those who lived most of their adulthood through what is sometimes called the Era of the Social Contract, roughly from 1946 until 1972, to adults in later decades.

The Era of the Social Contract was a time when jobs were plentiful, a janitor, nightwatchman, factory operative, or other unskilled employee could support a family, and even buy a decent home, while his spouse could be a homemaker.

Subsequently, however, outsourcing, down-sizing, internationalization, and technological developments eliminated or degraded the kinds of jobs that made the once-traditional family possible. Now, even though offspring have higher levels of educational attainment and professional-sounding jobs, two-breadwinners are the norm, the real wage for employment of all kinds has diminished, and even responsibly frugal people have a much tougher time getting ahead that their parents did.

Newman documents all this is vivid anthropological detail, and explains that degraded domestic labor markets, not deficiencies of workers, are to blame. If you're in the prime of your life, working hard, well educated, but still struggling to make ends meet even though you're a member of a family with two bread-winners, this book will help explain your circumstances. Without intending to do do, I think the book also explains the massive credit crunch that has afflicted so many of us: we simply don't get paid enough to maintain the rudiments of a middle class life style.

A good book.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a good book about attitudes of people in the baby boom generation. I missed the baby boom generation by a couple of years but I knew a lot of friends that felt they would not get their appropriate piece of the pie. I read this book back in 1994 when I was a MBA student. The prevailing thought was that the 90's would be a time of austerity. Another book which exemplifies that feeling is the "End of Affluence". Some of the credit for our IMPROVEMENT over the predicted results belong to the President (Clinton) and the Congress (both parties). One significant MILESTONE was that the home ownership rate reached record levels (especially amongst minorities)in the 90's.
The author Katherine Newman did a great job at telling person stories of baby boomers and their children and their predicted plight. I do not blame the author for getting this wrong. I am just glad that it did not come true.
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Format: Hardcover
Dated material.
Terrific if you're a baby boomer looking for a reason to whine. Still a good explanation of the whole situation for someone with no clue.
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