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Authors: Elizabeth Warren; Amelia Warren Tyagi

The Two-Income Trap

BOOK: The Two-Income Trap
Table of Contents
“Why are so many millions of parents earning more but enjoying it less in our modern economy? Why are mothers the only group of women worse off financially now than a generation ago? Why can’t today’s hardworking families afford the happier lifestyle of their parents? How can they escape the “two-income trap” and prevent a financial meltdown? In this excellent book, Warren and Tyagi tell the shocking story of that trap, and offer real hope for a better future.”
—Senator Edward M. Kennedy
“A provocative new book. . . the authors suggest ambitious solutions.”

“At a time when many middle-class families are just an accident or an illness away from financial disaster, this book provides a well-researched road map of where we are, as well as viable escape routes.”

Boston Globe
“An eye-opening, well-documented thesis set out in a succinct and easy-to-read fashion.”

Washington Post
“THE TWO-INCOME TRAP goes a long way toward explaining. . . why so many Americans, even quite affluent ones, are convinced they aren’t doing as well as their parents did or that they could have their success snatched away much more easily.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review
“One of the best books that explains this historic moment and describes what families are going through.”
—Senator John Edwards
“Original solutions that go beyond ideology. . . . I highly recommend to my viewers that they get THE TWO-INCOME TRAP.”
—Bill Moyers
“[Warren] argues movingly that the misery and shame of bankruptcy is as pungent as ever—it’s just more widely experienced . . . The book is brimming with proposed solutions to the nail-biting anxiety that the middle class finds itself in: subsidized day care, school vouchers, new bank regulations, among other measures.”

Wall Street Journal
—Mortimer B. Zuckerman, editor-in-chief,
U.S. News & World Report
“Warren and Tyagi argue persuasively that mass ‘over-consumption’ is not the problem . . . Moreover, the book does offer unexpectedly fresh discussions of “deadbeat dads” (it turns out there aren’t very many of them) and the credit-card industry (where the current business strategy is to get financially troubled families ‘to borrow [still] more money’).”

National Review
“In their groundbreaking book, Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi demonstrate that . . . even when a two-earner family today brings in almost twice the income of a one-earner family in the 1970s (in inflation-adjusted constant dollars), the 1970s family had more discretionary income than today’s.”

Atlantic Monthly
“Warren and Tyagi masterfully demonstrate how parents’ quest for high-quality public schools often lies at the heart of their precarious economic position. . . . [I]nnovative . . . ingenious approach to a difficult and divisive issue.”
—Judith A. Winston, Former Undersecretary and General Counsel, U.S. Department of Education
“Presenting carefully researched economic data to support their arguments, the authors contend that, contrary to popular myth, families aren’t in trouble because they’re squandering their second income on luxuries. On the contrary, both incomes are almost entirely committed to necessities . . . The authors recommend a number of useful societal solutions to get families out of this trap . . . this is a needed examination of an emerging social problem.”

Publishers Weekly
“[This] sobering analysis of the widespread and largely unaddressed erosion of middle-class stability presents a carefully crafted, persuasive indictment of a financial industry preying on the hardships and vulnerabilities of middle-class families, and the argument is perhaps most effective in its careful accounting of the families of public education to serve equitably the needs of those families.”

Ruminator Review
“[A]ccurately characterizes the plight of the middle class and illuminates the problems that arise when families become dependent upon two incomes without adequately saving.”

The Hill
“The book persuasively argues that the rise of dual-income families is increasing the chances of a middle-class financial disaster.”

St. Petersburg Times
“My advice for a great way to start on the road back to fiscal solvency, or to avoid falling into this trap altogether, is to invest $26 of your dwindling discretionary income on THE TWO-INCOME TRAP. The solutions and advice it provides might change the financial future for you and your children, today, tomorrow, and forever.”

Lowell Sun
“The book should be mandatory reading for any couple before they begin a family.”

Pensacola News Journal
“Well-constructed book [with a] very persuasive argument”
—“Sound Money,” NPR
“An extremely thoughtful, well-presented, relevant book that challenges some of the basic assumptions in America today . . . this excellent work deserves to be considered by all, and most currently by policy-makers looking for creative solutions.”

Tampa Tribune
“[A] comfort to parents who are sick of being told it is their own fault their families are struggling financially. Here, finally is another interpretation of the data, one that says we’re going broke not because we over-spend on things we don’t need but because we’re good parents . . . It is a sound policy document . . . Whether you agree with their suggestions or not, [Warren and Tyagi] offer plenty of food for thought and a welcome break from the guilt that comes with each month’s efforts to keep up with the mounting bills.”

Chicago Parents Magazine
As We Forgive Our Debtors
The Fragile Middle Class
This book is dedicated to all parents who wake up with hearts thudding over the possibility that buying school shoes and Girl Scout uniforms will mean that there won’t be enough left over to pay the mortgage. These people are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our friends and coworkers. They travel anonymously among us, but we know them. They went to college, had kids, bought a home, played by the rules—and lost. It is time to rewrite the rules so that these families are winners again.
he Two-Income Trap
shipped to bookstores on September 2, 2003—an easy day to remember, because it happens to be Amelia’s birthday. (Amelia’s co-author, Elizabeth, also celebrates that day, since she’s Amelia’s mom.) Within two weeks,
The Two-Income Trap
had been featured in
The New York Times,
Business Week
, and on The Today Show, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and so on.
At the end of September, we took a deep breath. Wasn’t that exciting! Now, time to get back to life as usual—research projects, teaching classes at Harvard Law School, a demanding toddler.
Then Dr. Phil called. And Lou Dobbs. And Bill Moyers. And Senator John Edwards. And
USA Today, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Marketplace,
And the calls kept coming.
Their message added up to one thing:
The Two-Income Trap
is a phenomenon.
Most of the time, we talked with reporters who just wanted to quiz us about our book. “How did you find out about the Two-Income Trap?” (We completed the largest study ever on financial failure in America.) “What should families do to protect themselves from the Two-Income Trap?” (Take their own Financial Fire Drill.) And so on.
But sometimes the attention was far more personal. A reporter, a secretary, a neighbor taking out her groceries, or a mom dropping off her son at preschool would lean in close, dropping her voice to
a whisper. “
The Two-Income Trap
my life.
No one has any idea
Thank you for writing this book.”
At book signings we met retired couples who asked us to sign three copies, one for each of their grown children who, they said, were caught in the trap. On radio call-in programs we talked with pastors and rabbis who worried about families in their congregations who were sliding into debt and needed help. We received emails from stay-at-home moms who said this book helped them rethink their choices and from young couples who decided to pause before committing to an oversized mortgage that would chew through both of their incomes.
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