Synopses & Reviews
In this thoroughly researched and rousing manifesto, Anya Kamenetz chronicles and questions the plight of the new "youth class": 18 to 29-year-olds who are drowning in debt and therefore seemingly unable to "grow up." Many older adults perceive today's youth as immature slackers, "twixters," or "boomerang kids," who simply cannot get their act together, but Kamenetz argues that this perception is a misinformed stereotype.
Numerous economic factors have combined to create a perfect storm for the financial and personal lives of America's youth: a college degree is essential for employment yet financially crippling to many, government grants for education are at an all-time low, Social Security and Medicare are on their deathbeds, and our parents and grandparents are retiring earlier and living longer. How will we get ourselves out of this mess? By analyzing and explaining the causes of this phenomenon, Kamenetz demonstrates the urgent need for people to begin investing in our nation's youth. Generation Debt will get you thinking in new ways about American values and America's future.
"Surveying the economic realities facing today's 20- and 30-somethings, 24-four-old Kamenetz decides, 'It's not too dramatic to say that the nation is abandoning its children.' Thanks to skyrocketing tuition and changes in federal funding, college students are graduating with an average of almost $20,000 in loans at the same time that jobs have become scarcer, real wages have dropped and the cost of health care has soared. Is it any wonder that kids are boomeranging home and racking up credit card debt? Kamenetz, who first wrote about these issues for the "Village Voice, intertwines an analytical overview of the new economic obstacles with interviews of the financially strapped and descriptions of her own experience struggling to make ends meet as a freelance journalist. Her book is livelier than Tamara Draut's similarly themed Strapped, but lighter in its analysis of law and policy. Most interestingly, Kamenetz documents how our perception of the crisis is shaped by self-centered boomers who have lost touch with their children's plight. More of a white paper than a guidebook, this volume doesn't offer under-40s much personal financial advice (that job is taken up by Generation Debt, see review below). It does, however, make clear how imperative it is that we find solutions to these problems as quickly as possible." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"When the average college student graduates with $18,560 of debt, almost all of it in tuition loans, and is lucky to find a job that will pay even $28,000 a year, how is he or she supposed to make ends meet? Ulrich, a former projects editor for Money, offers a step-by-step guide on how to budget your monthly expenses, make judicious use of credit cards while avoiding the pitfalls of high interest rates, and find the best way to pay off those student loans. Later sections cover situations like choosing whether to rent or buy a home, getting a car and saving for retirement, and each chapter has links to Web sites with additional resources. Ulrich's advice is simple and to the point, but her efforts to reach a young audience with sarcasm and hip lingo occasionally risk the appearance of talking down to her readers. There's also a slight but uncomfortable strain of resentment aimed toward peers from wealthier families who don't have to grapple with these issues. Ulrich does argue for some big nationwide initiatives, like a higher minimum wage and increased credit card regulation, but she's much more concerned with providing basic solutions to individual financial crises and delivers the goods effectively." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"What keeps Kamenetz's book from devolving into a whiny, angst-ridden rant are the frightening facts...and the burden of incurring massive debts to stay afloat in college or launch a career." Library Journal
"From college debt to dead end jobs, and from marriage and relationships to politics in Washington, Generation Debt describes the obstacles facing the youth who will be the future leaders of our country. In this book Anya Kamenetz uses both compelling stories and hard data to demonstrate how the cards are stacked against this generation. Anybody who cares about the future of this country will want to read this book, and anybody who can help change that future must read it." Donald E. Heller, Associate Professor of Education, Pennsylvania State University, and editor of Condition of Access: Higher Education for Lower Income Students
"This is not about a bunch of slackers who refuse to grow up. It's about an entire generation to whom that privilege and right may be denied." Oregonian
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist draws on her research with experts in economics, education, the health-care industry, and other fields to identify the sources of massive debt among young adults, in an account that explores such factors as college loans, poor employee benefits, and threats to social security. Reprint. 30,000 first printing.
Taking a compelling day-to-day look at the life experiences behind a massive economic shift, this rousing manifesto will have readers thinking in new ways about American values and about America's future.
offers a truly gripping account of how young Americans are being ground down by low wages, high taxes, huge student loans, sky-high housing prices, not to mention the impending retirement of their baby boomer parents. Twenty-four-year-old Anya Kamenetz examines this issue from every angle and provides a riveting, rousing manifesto that will inspire everyone to take care of their financial future.
About the Author
Anya Kamenetz received her B.A. from Yale in 2002 and writes for New York magazine, Salon, The Nation, and The Village Voice, where she earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her contributions to the series Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young. She has appeared on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as a spokesperson on the employment obstacles facing youth.