The Fragile Middle Class by Teresa A. Sullivan
Americans in Debt

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Since 1997, the number of American families filing for federal bankruptcy annually has exceeded one million. By most measures, those who file are members of the middle class - a group that has long provided stability and vitality for the American economic system. This raises the troubling question: why, during the most remarkable period of prosperity in our history, are unprecedented numbers of Americans encountering such serious financial trouble? The authors of this important book analyse court records and demographic data on thousands of bankruptcy cases, as well as debtors' own poignant accounts of the reasons for their bankruptcies. For many middle-class Americans, the findings show, financial stability is fragile - almost any setback can be disastrous. The erosion of job stability, divorce and family instability, the visible and invisible costs of medical care, the burden of home ownership, and the staggering weight of consumer debt financed with plastic combine to threaten the financial security of growing numbers of middle-class families.
The authors view the bankruptcy process in the light of changing cultural and economic factors and consider what this may signify for the future of a large, secure, and dynamic middle class.

About Teresa A. Sullivan

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Teresa A. Sullivan is Vice President and Graduate Dean and professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Elizabeth Warren is a chaired professor at Harvard Law School. She is the author or coauthor of several books, including "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke." She has appeared on numerous television shows, including "Dr. Phil" and the "Today" show. She lives with her husband in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Elizabeth and Amelia are mother and daughter. Jay Lawrence Westbrook is Benno C. Schmidt Chair of Business Law at the University of Texas School of Law.
Published March 11, 2000 by Yale University Press. 399 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Noting that personal bankruptcies have hit record levels (more than one million American households file for them each year), the authors (As We Forgive Our Debtors) zero in on middle-class vulnerability through a detailed survey of 2,452 people across the nation who filed for bankruptcy during t...

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Project MUSE

Especially given the rapid increases in credit card debt, any of several shocks can push a family into bankruptcy.

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