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Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class

by Robert H. Frank

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924260,078 (3.83)None
With a timely new foreword by Robert Frank, this groundbreaking book explores the very meaning of happiness and prosperity in America today. Although middle-income families don't earn much more than they did several decades ago, they are buying bigger cars, houses, and appliances. To pay for them, they spend more than they earn and carry record levels of debt. Robert Frank explains how increased concentrations of income and wealth at the top of the economic pyramid have set off "expenditure cascades" that raise the cost of achieving many basic goals for the middle class. Writing in lively prose for a general audience, Frank employs up-to-date economic data and examples drawn from everyday life to shed light on reigning models of consumer behavior. He also suggests reforms that could mitigate the costs of inequality. Falling Behind compels us to rethink how and why we live our economic lives the way we do.… (more)
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i couldn't really finish this because it's all stuff i've seen updated on blogs and national newspaper sites lately. glad he laid the foundation here (or you know, in semi-popular press), but it seemed superfluous reading. ( )
  mirnanda | Dec 27, 2019 |
Good short version of Frank's ideas about positional goods, inequality, expenditure cascases, taxes, etc. ( )
  ohernaes | Jan 1, 2014 |
Why a Middle Class?: Frank is an economist who writes a column for the Wall Street Journal. He has written books that entertain and inform. This book clearly falls in the latter category. It contains a series of thought provoking observations about the present state of the American middle class. He finishes the book with some ideas about what can be done to continue to support it. Those that revolve around restructuring the country's tax system are sure to make some uncomfortable. The book is well worth a read.

The size and health of its middle class used to be a matter of pride for America. If you think the state of the middle class is not important, just compare America to countries that don't have a thriving middle class. There are a lot of them in Africa and Latin America.
  mugwump2 | Nov 29, 2008 |
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  dlamanti | Aug 6, 2007 |
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With a timely new foreword by Robert Frank, this groundbreaking book explores the very meaning of happiness and prosperity in America today. Although middle-income families don't earn much more than they did several decades ago, they are buying bigger cars, houses, and appliances. To pay for them, they spend more than they earn and carry record levels of debt. Robert Frank explains how increased concentrations of income and wealth at the top of the economic pyramid have set off "expenditure cascades" that raise the cost of achieving many basic goals for the middle class. Writing in lively prose for a general audience, Frank employs up-to-date economic data and examples drawn from everyday life to shed light on reigning models of consumer behavior. He also suggests reforms that could mitigate the costs of inequality. Falling Behind compels us to rethink how and why we live our economic lives the way we do.

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