Navigation Links
Why does the American middle class continue to struggle financially?

NEW YORK CITY Since the mid-1980s, unrestrained household spending has damaged American family finances despite the fact that globalization and technological change have caused consumer prices to fall widely, says Queens College sociologist Joseph Nathan Cohen. In his paper, "The Myth of America's 'Culture of Consumerism': Policy May Help Drive American Household's Fraying Finances," which Cohen will present at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, he examines the factors that keep American families from tightening their belts.

A brief summary:

  • Household spending on goods that fulfill pleasure, self-esteem, or social status needs have generally been falling, including personal care items, apparel, home furnishings, and automobiles.

  • However, consumption spending has risen most in four product categories that shape families' health, safety, and economic viability: health care, education, housing, and commuting costs.

  • Prices in these four product markets have greatly outpaced both wages and prices in general.

  • Americans may be systematically pressed to overspend on housing because access to better schools, public services, and transportation infrastructure varies considerably across communities, and better-heeled communities often restrict affordable housing developments. Americans may face a relatively high well-being penalty for living in more modestly-priced homes.

  • Compared to other highly-developed countries, the U.S. does considerably less to control the personal financial burden borne by households to ensure access to these products and services essential to well-being.

  • Soaring tuition and health care costs are not the principal drivers of household financial distress, but they constitute the fastest-growing problem.

  • Cohen argues that our penchant to blame household spending problems on wastefulness or frivolities obscures the fact that Americans increasingly face a lose-lose dilemma in which they must choose between sustainable finances and access to quality schools, child care, medical care, public safety, and employment opportunities.

Cohen, a Canadian with a business background who studied at Princeton (Ph.D. sociology, 2007), also examines how other countries tackle the provision of essential services in different and potentially less financially damaging ways. "Canada's policies control the personal financial burden of accessing essential services, which might be why household finances are in better shape there," he says.


Contact: Daniel Fowler
American Sociological Association

Related medicine news :

1. North American Spine to Offer AccuraScope Procedure in New San Antonio Facility
2. The American Hospital Association Now Offers No Cost Job Feeds to
3. American Addiction Center's Team of Adolescent Addiction Specialists Provide Key Professional Advice for Parents in Talking to Their Teens About Substance Use
4. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Recognizes North Fulton Hospital’s Critical Care Unit with Beacon Award for Excellence
5. Santa Rosa Boot Camp Celebrates Successful 1,000lb Meltdown Challenge by Donating All Proceeds to the American Heart Association
6. Escape from poverty helps explain diabetes epidemic in the American South
7. Obese black Americans half as likely as whites to have bariatric surgery
8. Genetic Testing for Kidney Disease Among African-Americans with Hypertension to Become Part of Primary Care Offerings Through Mount Sinai and Partners
9. Katherine A. High, M.D., to present 2013 American Society of Hematology E. Donnall Thomas Lecture
10. North American Drug Delivery Systems Market Examined by MarketsandMarkets in Topical Study Available at
11. North American Seminars Receives PT Continuing Education Course Approval in NJ for a Master Level Differential Diagnosis, Evaluation and Treatment of the Foot and Ankle
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Health-E-minds ... collaborated with Women’s Web – an online resource for Indian women looking ... and emotional well-being relationship, life balance, stress, professional development, and lifestyle. Health-E-minds ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... The holiday season is jam-packed with ... palates of attendees is of the utmost importance. Whether you are cooking at ... these recipes a try this holiday season. , Turkey Croquettes , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dr. John Pierce, Medical Director at the Ageless ... treatment with the Capillus272™ Pro laser therapy cap. FDA cleared for safety and efficacy, ... without the need for surgery, prescription pills, or topical foams. , “Capillus272™ Pro ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... According to an article published November 10th ... widely heralded as a breakthrough for performing hernia repairs. The article explains that the ... is that it can greatly reduce the pain that a patient might otherwise experience ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... athletic programs, launches new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook page to educate the ... for unsuspected cardiac abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the age of 25 die ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... Nov. 26, 2015 Research and Markets ( ... "Advanced Wound Care Market by Type (Dressings, Therapy Devices, ... (In-Patient Facility, Out-Patient Facility), and Geography - Global Forecast ... --> --> The purpose ... and forecast of the global advanced wound care market. ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... India , November 26, 2015 ... --> adds ... Report" and "Investigation Report on China ... and 2021 forecasts data and information ... . ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Nov. 26, 2015 Research ... addition of the "2016 Future Horizons and ... (TDM) Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive ... --> --> ... analysis of the Italian therapeutic drug monitoring market, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: