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Why Our Families Can't Afford America - Pacific Standard

Why Our Families Can't Afford America

A portrait of the stressed and shrinking American middle class.
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Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America.

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America.

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America
Alissa Quart
HarperCollins

"I started this book out of a certain personal distress," writes journalist Alissa Quart in Squeezed, her portrait of the stressed and shrinking American middle class. While scrambling to pay a hospital bill after childbirth, Quart started wondering why her life felt so pinched—and why she felt so much self-blame about it. She started interviewing other people who had mistakenly "believed that their training or background would ensure they would be properly, comfortably, middle class." Commonalities emerge: constant worry, feelings of inadequacy. Several times, Quart pauses to recognize that America's working classes have it worse than the middle class, and she suggests the two groups' fates are linked. When the middle shrinks, it gets harder to join. Meanwhile, those scrambling to maintain their bourgeois status off-load work to lower-class workers. Except for those at the top, we're sliding downward together.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.

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