Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why does the American middle class continue to struggle financially?

12.08.2013
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.

About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, "The Myth of America's 'Culture of Consumerism': Policy May Help Drive American Household's Fraying Finances," will be presented on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 2:30 p.m. EDT in New York City at the American Sociological Association's 108th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for assistance reaching the study's author(s); or for more information on other ASA presentations, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler, ASA's Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 10-13), ASA's Public Information Office staff can be reached in the on-site press office, located in the Hilton New York Midtown's Clinton Room, at (212) 333-6362 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

For more information about the study, members of the media can also contact Maria Matteo, Queens College, at (718) 997-5593 or maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu.

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer reviewed journals.

Daniel Fowler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asanet.org

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>