Families today are squeezed on every side-from high childcare costs and harsh employment policies to workplaces without paid family leave or even dependable and regular working hours. Alissa Quart examines the lives of many middle-class Americans who can now barely afford to raise children.
It wasn’t long ago that the term 'middle class' suggested security, conformity and often complacency...Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, arrives at a moment when members of the middle class are no longer a robust demographic but an embattled and shrinking population, struggling to hold on to their delicate perch in an unforgiving economic order ... 'They are people on the brink who did everything right,' Quart writes, 'and yet the math of their family lives is simply not adding up.'
In this suitable match of author and subject, Alissa Quart, executive editor of the nonprofit Economic Hardship Project (founded by Barbara Ehrenreich), lucidly demonstrates that for many, the dream of such satisfaction is increasingly out of reach ... Unlike recent books that are similar in spirit...Quart’s narrative focuses not on the bottom levels of American poverty but rather on the segment of the population that many of us would be surprised to learn are struggling to keep their heads above water ... Quart is especially good with the psychological dimensions involved in this pervasive problem ... Most readers will likely agree that the game is rigged, and Quart accessibly lays out the mechanics of the game ... Though she doesn’t offer sweeping agendas for change, the book is full of useful, good-sense ideas that legislators and other leaders should heed.
Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America provides an in-depth look at two things people all too often shy away from discussing: money and class. The term standard of living, Quart notes, is used less and less, perhaps because 'the notion that a relatively high quality of life should include small pleasures and comforts has faded.' ... Quart introduces readers to a variety of people and families being squeezed, whom she calls the Middle Precariat—a 'just making-it group,' who 'believed that their training or background would ensure that they would be properly, comfortably middle-class,' but whose assumptions turned out to be wrong.