Why Our Families Can't Afford America

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Attaining the standard of living our parents managed has become impossible. Quart examines the lives of many middle-class Americans who can now barely afford to raise children, and shows how our country has failed its families. She offers real solutions to problems, including outlining necessary policy shifts, as well as detailing the DIY tactics some families are already putting into motion, and argues for the cultural reevaluation of parenthood and caregiving-- Adapted from book jacket.
Publisher: New York : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062412256
Characteristics: 312 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 10, 2020

Interesting topic but author doesn’t make sound conclusions and uses statistics inappropriately. The characters are hard to relate with and don’t seem to portray a typical middle class struggle. Found several grammar errors and moments of general sloppiness before eventually giving up.

Jan 20, 2019

While I hoped for more research and data, the anecdotal information within is still interesting, and highlights the challenges of Gen X and beyond in entering their adulthood in a time when college costs rapidly expanded and no longer ensured work; home prices skyrocketed, and the recession dawned, social infrastructure continued to rapidly crumble, and absolutely none of our policies even began to catch up to the new reality. Overall, the book would have been stronger if it had more voices outside of NYC.

Sep 24, 2018

For all the happy talk about flexibility and freedom, the mad scramble for stable situations seems to be accelerating.

Sep 22, 2018

The author's own experience as part of the "middle precariat" seems to be one of the prime motivators for writing this book, but I thought the parts about her own experience and her reportage about other financially insecure middle-class people did not always mesh that well. Some of the chapters are quite insightful and revealing, but others are less so, and seem rushed and underdeveloped (e.g. "The Rise of 1 Percent Television"). Quart's conclusions about the severe undervaluation of both paid and unpaid care work as underpinning the general "squeeze" she chronicles are convincing, but could have been better integrated into the book as a whole. I was also surprised at the number of typographical and other errors--for example, on page 230, she makes an analogy using the Steven Spielberg film "The Sugarland Express," but the Spielberg film she describes there is actually "Duel."

Aug 04, 2018

Do yourself a favor and avoid this book. The premise is that "attaining the standard of living their parents managed has become impossible." And unreliable anecdotal stories are used to try and sustain that premise - to push her mantra "it's not your fault." Unfortunately, facts contradict much of what Alissa Quart puts forth. Take housing as an example: Housing is believed to be more expensive today than it was 50 years ago. And the average home price has gone up faster than wage growth - but the problem is the average home size has grown almost 60% in that same time period. The cost per square foot of housing is actually down compared to wage growth... meaning the same size house your parents started in, is cheaper for you relative to average income. The issue is you want a house that is 50% larger and are mad you can't afford it. Alissa Quart's answer is, "it's not your fault." Michelle Belmont's story of taking on volumes of debt for her undergraduate degree, then taking on even more to get her graduate degree - to become a Technological Librarian (avg salary was about $20/hour when she decided to put six-figures of debt into that career). Alissa Quart's answer to Mrs. Belmont is "it's not your fault." This book put forth anecdotal arguments of how a more socialist government system would have helped people who made poor choices to take on debt, get an unnecessary education for a low-paying career, pursuing housing of the size or in an area they cannot afford, and so forth. When it comes to how affordable life is to the people in the middle (median income, and so forth), this book misses the boat, and the facts, entirely.

Aug 03, 2018

The structural problems in today's economy should make for good analysis and good reading. Quart misses the mark though. Her book focuses on fringe characters, most of whom have put themselves in poor positions with bad career choices and worse educations. Her solutions are laughable and don't address the larger problems effectively.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at HCL

To Top