Thursday, March 20, 2008

two-income trap

I'm not loving it. It's a book group read.

What these authors are taking an entire book to say is that the high cost of health care and housing compared to a generation ago is putting the squeeze on middle-income families and this accounts for higher rates of bankruptcy. I have no beef with that. In fact, I think it could make a fascinating article. But an entire book?

A big point the authors make, and thus the title, is that women who are choosing to work primarily to give their families an economic edge are actually not. Two-income families have less disposible income now than the one-income families of the previous generation. Ok, so that's interesting. But then they say things like this: "When mothers joined the workforce, the family gave up something of considerable (although unrecognized) economic value: an extra skilled and dedicated adult, available to pitch in to help save the family during times of emergency." I don't know if I buy that. In our single-income family, if something happened to my husband and he were unable to provide any income to our family for several months, we'd be in deep trouble. Eventually I could find some employment that could help, but it would probably be too little too late. I imagine this would be the case for many, perhaps most, single-income families of the past or present times.

The authors claim that droves of middle-income families over-extend themselves financially to get into a decent school district. They use examples from California. California? How is that representative of our country? I know many families who used to live in California but don't now because, guess why not? They couldn't afford a home in a decent school district. As far as I know, no one is forced to live in California against their will.

Maybe it's the sensational tone of the book that I find most annoying, but I suppose it's what you would expect. How are they going to sell the book if they don't get people all riled up?

So I probably won't finish it. It's pretty depressing.


Karen ~ said...

Well, do skip ahead because I want to hear about the "surpriseing solutions that will change our chidlrens' futures".

No doubt the authors will have great wisdom to offer us lowly midwesterners.

Dezze Em said...

Wow! I'm really surprised you feel this way. I just finished it yesterday & I've been talking about it non-stop. I will say that her data is not just based on California (read the appendix.) The studies were based on 4-5 main states in the different regions of the country. Over all, every one of the solutions she lays out made me pause & think. In the last chapter she calls for action--which I, for one WILL follow up on. In my opinion, this is the best read so far!

athena said...

i've been wanting to read this book. and it looks like i have a few opinions about it already! :)

Auntie Lee said...

The idea that women have only recently started to work is preposterous. For hundreds of years low-income women have always worked for money at skilled jobs only it was not recognized by men.

Housing prices have sored since middle and upper class women started to work, that is not new info. I would however draw the line at saying families are going bankrupt because of it. When I go to the States I am always surprised at how many people have expensive cars, expensive TVs and lots of junk they all seem to 'need'. They also ALL have a credit card- all of them.

It is also rediculous that people do all kinds of things to live in a good school district. They do that in Florida and in Maine. How sad! That can only be changed by making ALL schools-good schools.

You can't believe everything you read. Even this. The paradox of the written word.

GuGarden said...

I find it interesting though that the council from the church is for the women to gain as much education as they can. This is so that in an emergency they have a better sense of well being as well as income capability. We would be in trouble if my husband lost his job but it isn't because I don't work. Its because we do dumb stuff with our money.