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Generation Debt

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  242 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
An emerging spokesperson for a new generation passionately and persuasively addresses the grim state of young people today-and tells us how we can, and must, save our future.

The nature of youth is to question. So when twenty-four-year-old Anya Kamenetz started out as a journalist, she began asking hard questions about her generation for which no one seemed to have good a
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 2nd 2006 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 2006)
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danielle
May 08, 2008 danielle rated it did not like it
This was really poorly written. The author does a lot of complaining with very little suggested solutions, and honestly, doesn't argue her case very well. It's definitely an important issue, but I just wanted to slap her to make her stop whining.
Isaac
Nov 06, 2008 Isaac rated it it was amazing
Anyone my age will benefit from reading this book, which frames many of the economic and overall lifestyle choices we make in terms of policy issues that have come to define post-globalization America. Manufacturing jobs are for the most part gone or else steadily disappearing overseas. In their place we have an abundance of mostly non-unionized service industry jobs, which for the most part see a high turnover rate and very little long term security (unless you're willing to go for management, ...more
H R Koelling
Jul 31, 2007 H R Koelling rated it really liked it
I eagerly devoured this book as soon as my local library ordered it for me. I am constantly contemplating the fate of my generation and I wanted some insight into why I felt we live the way we do. The author verified many of the fears I had harbored about our opportunities and the greed that drives our preceding generation.

We're not out of the woods yet, but at least I know there's other people out there to commiserate with. This is not another Gen X screed about poor us; oh boo hoo. It painsta
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Rick
Jul 18, 2010 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Fascinating look into the situation behind college and young adult debts - credit cards, changes to the way we pay for college. I'm past this now, but damn did it bring back some bad memories. Paying for college is a ridiculous proposition these days.

I admire deeply Anya's call to activism and admire her for writing a book to encourage people to do just that. There were also a few interesting passages about just how EASY it would be to fix many of these problems, and I find myself wondering wha
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Michael
Nov 12, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it
This book was pretty bad. I'm a chemical engineering grad student and have little sympathy or empathy for those quoted in this book.
The author makes a good case that our generation is in severe amounts of debt but much of the blame is on a lack of individual irresponsibility.
Some of the quotes made me even more desensitized to the "victim's" plight:

"Nita barely manages the monthly minimum payments on $10,000 of credit card debt, mostly run up in one summer two years ago of 'being a tourist in my
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Josh Meares
Dec 07, 2010 Josh Meares rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
Not worth reading all the way through. An excellent example of the entitlement trap. It asks deep philosophical questions like "Where did all the good jobs with benefits go?" and such provocative claims as the "impossibility of making a living wage".

Want a job? Start a business.
And as for living wage, ummm, the average income for the global middle class, when adjusted for purchasing power parity, is $6000/year. So shut the hell up about how tough life is on $10/hour. Or else the hundreds of mill
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Susan Steed
Sep 25, 2015 Susan Steed rated it liked it
Shelves: skim-read
Not a review - just a few notes I made:

Dr Heller - look up their research - the lowest attending rich kids attend college at about the same rate (77%) as the smartest poor kids (78%)
In 2000 the gap between whites and blacks in college attendance as 11ppts, back in 1972 the gap was only 5 points.

Law students default on their loans more than most other graduates.

For every $100 lent to students, govt pays subsidies of something like $11 to banks.

Kotlikoff quote "What is really happening: a massive
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Rebecca T Marsh
Jan 11, 2013 Rebecca T Marsh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I think this is a must read. To me, Kamenetz's big assumption is that education is a social good for society, so society should invest in its students and not overburden them with debt, when they seek education. However, I am not sure that the primary beneficiary of education is society instead of the individual. It's seems to me that most people seek a job/degree that will make them the most money that they can make comfortably with some enjoyment, so the primary beneficiary is the student. But ...more
Muhammad
Jun 11, 2010 Muhammad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anya Kamenetz is a young twenty-something freelance journalist who has got an axe to grind with the older generation.

She argues that young Americans are being grounded by low wages, high taxes and sky-high housing prices - thanks to a financially irresponsible baby-boomer generation. The gist behind her logic is that our parents have been living beyond their means and now the current generation of adults will have to foot the bill for their gross imprudence.

This may sound like a classic deflecti
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Dmitry
Dec 29, 2012 Dmitry rated it liked it
The author has done a great job describing the struggles of today's 20- and 30-year olds trying to find meaning in life, career path, and get a grip of the world of personal finance. The author places most of the blame on the older generations, almost excusing the young people's passive attitude and childish outlook on life. Instead of building on the momentum and sounding a call to wake up and smell the coffee, she calls for more government regulation, student activism on campuses, and the olde ...more
Kasandra
Mar 06, 2013 Kasandra rated it it was ok
The best part of this book is the author's illustration of how common it is for 20, 30, and even 40-somethings to have to take "crap jobs" these days, with the hollowing out of the workforce: jobs that have no benefits, barely offer full time hours (or offer more than full time hours but don't pay overtime), no opportunities for advancement, no educational opportunities/chance to expand one's skill set, and/or contract work where you're called self-employed but really aren't, since you can't det ...more
Vanessa
Apr 04, 2007 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers, twenty-somethings, and their parents
Shelves: 2007
I read this book on the recommendation of a professor, and got sucked in. The author graduated from an Ivy league school thinking she was prepared for a profitable career in journalism, only to find out that there was no work for her, and become a freelance author. She was making little money and falling into debt, and noticed that all of the other young people around her were finding themselves slaves to their debt as well. The book explores the financial situations of both college grads and pe ...more
Christiane
Apr 16, 2008 Christiane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in college or in debt
Shelves: life-skills
It's amazing to me how the new American Dream includes being in debt for something. I teach at the college level and the only constant I have found with all my students is most of them are in debt or will be soon. Although I hope my students finish their bachelor degree, the ideas presented in this text made me reconsider that. It is more important for them to develop a marketable skill, through vocational education, than to transfer to a university. It also made me reconsider my own view toward ...more
sleeps9hours
Jul 31, 2008 sleeps9hours rated it really liked it
Revealing look at the struggles of GenX.

p95 our new reality is postindustrial, nonunion, service-oriented, highly competitive, highly flexible, and technology dependent. Wages overall have been declining for almost 3 decades, with lower-wage workers falling far behind and higher-wage workers barely standing still. Bernhardt summarized these trends as “stagnation and polarization”.

p151 What is really happening: A massive redistribution from young and future Americans to currently living adults.
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Sarah
Jul 26, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all young people struggling to get by financially
A well-researched and well-written account of all the changes in our society that are working against young people and negatively affecting our chances of buying homes, becoming financially stable, saving enough for retirement, etc. This was actually rather depressing, overall, but I think it's extremely important to know what we're up against.

I was particularly interested in the catch-22 of the marriage question. It is financially difficult for most people of our generation to even think about
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Tim H
May 15, 2011 Tim H rated it really liked it
The author did a lot of leg work and gathered stories from many many young people encountering the problems of this generation. The market for "for profit" student loans and college textbooks is too big and powerful to see themselves end. They survive by bleeding educational hopefuls until the rest of their life is tied up in paying interest on something sometimes as much as a house. Read this book. It will be rehashing a bit of what you may already know but it does give further insight into the ...more
Patty
A MUST READ. Although the book is directed at those 30 and younger, it should be required reading for all children and their parents. Clear, cogent and readable, it highlights the plight of our youth who mortgage their futures to go college and then face limited options. It's about bad decision-making, corrupt politics, and a world askew. One paraphrase- the author put $3,600 in an IRA at age 25. If she continues to save the same amount for the next 15 years and earns 8% a year, she will have in ...more
Sarah
Mar 14, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i THOUGH THiS BOOK WAS VERY iNFORMATiONAL AND BROUGHT UP VERY GOOD POiNTS. THE RAViNG REViEWS i READ PRiOR iS WHAT MADE ME PURCHASE THE BOOK. i THOUGHT "WOW, MY LiFE STORY." HOWEVER, HALFWAY THROUGH THiS BOOK, i FOUND MYSELF DiSSAPOiNTED. EACH CHAPTER WAS MORE REPETiTiVE THAN THE LAST. SO, i SKiPPED A FEW PAGES HERE AND THERE, BECAUSE i FOUND MYSELF LOSiNG FOCUS DUE TO LACK OF iNTEREST. THEN, WHEN i GOT TO THE "HOW TO FiGHT BACK" SECTiON, iT WAS ALL COMMON SENSE. THE iNSTRUCTiONS THE AUTHOR GAVE ...more
Katie
Mar 12, 2010 Katie rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-10
Nonfiction 9

This book had some valid points, but I felt like she deliberately picked the worst candidates to interview and that this generation DOES feel entitled. I think that most people could pull themselves out of the desperate situations they find themselves in, but lack the motivation, the knowledge, or just don't care enough to do that. There were many topics that could have easily turned into a whine session, but I think she was a very good writer and avoided that. It was an interesting
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Desiree
Jun 15, 2010 Desiree rated it really liked it
Quite the depressing read! Things sure are different than they were when I was college age! I was able to squeak by with no student loans or credit cards. That didn't mean that my degree got me a good job, though.. That is what the author is saying about today's world. The jobs that are available are mostly mcjobs, part-time with low pay and no benefits. Most of them are not permanent, nor do they offer a fast-track to the corner office! Those in the corner office sometimes can't afford to retir ...more
Hannah
Dec 12, 2008 Hannah rated it it was ok
The basic theme of the book is that lower-wage no-benefit jobs, credit card debt, and changes in federal education financing combine to severely cripple the economic advancement of people who graduate college in the 21st century. Cool premise, but I found the content to be too anecdotal and the tone to be too self-entitled. I'm also somewhat skeptical of her equal treatment of the job market, student loans and credit card debt as contributors to financial ruin. Also, I met Anya Kamenetz when she ...more
Steven
May 09, 2008 Steven rated it it was ok
Shelves: economic
Informative but not the best of non-fiction I've read.

The short breaks within each chapter (maybe one every 2 pages) really feel like they break up the flow of the book itself. Just when a discussion point is really being fleshed out there's a break and a new point is brought up. Somehow I felt that the book never quite flowed from one point to the next but was in a hurry to make as many points as possible.

The writing is solid and very readable. I just never felt that the arguments quite had eno
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Julie
Aug 21, 2008 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is not that I didn't like what I read -- rather it came across, at times, as speaking for a generation of self-involved brats. If our future was sold, is name calling the way to get it back? As I said, it's not that I don't agree with the message and given that I live in Pittsburgh I can curse at the olds with the best of 'em. I wish she had written a little more logical argument, and a bit less cast iron skillet to the head.

I thought Strapped, which I read concurrently with Generation Debt,
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Ginger K
Jul 23, 2007 Ginger K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Generation Debt is a necessary read for every member of Gen X/Y (and helpful for older generations trying to figure us out). Anya Kamenetz lays out the major economic changes that have occurred since the Boomers came of age and what that means for the generations now entering the job market. It upset me and angered me by turns, but the best part was that the author offered suggestions for how to get out from under - both individual and group action.

Arguably this is the most important book I've r
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Tsmith3312
Dec 08, 2009 Tsmith3312 rated it really liked it
I think somebody has finally spoken a truth that few have attempted to speak of. It's happening: many young people today will not do so well as their parents. Many have mortaged their future, heavily burdened by student loans before landing their first "real" job. I'm about a year or two older than the generation she writes about, but I relate, and moreover, I feel fortunate that I'm not a young person from this generation.
Dawn
Mar 25, 2009 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarylove
It's nice to know other people are experiencing the same difficulties I am. Although, as I read the book, I felt more like an outsider because my debt is significantly higher than almost all of the people Anya talked about in the book. Still, interesting and helpful--I learned about some websites and organizations that I can be a part of to hopefully make change. :)
Angela
Jul 28, 2007 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's likely that my profession causes me to be unimpressed by this book. The author is most thorough in firing up the reader, but she leaves little suggestion as to how to deal with the problem. This may be an unfair criticism, as she is a journalist, not a financial guru. I contacted her by email and she was most gracious, but again, her job is to report not to fix.
Synthia
The most notable aspect of this book is that it was written before the market crash. What was very obvious then is simply undeniable now. The book is laden with individual stories. It would serve well as a research source (view endnotes). The book covers all points in life and touches on policy and historical trends.
Stephanie
Mar 24, 2012 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, may
Read the first two chapters, and you'll probably be all set -- although the concept is an interesting one: there is no doubt that for young people today, the costs of starting out on your own (school, car, home, finding that first job) are significantly more expensive, proportionally, than ever before.
Eric
Apr 01, 2013 Eric rated it liked it
Well written, by a well educated journalist, and I really felt her pain. But I didn't agree with her analysis or her conclusions. She locks into the presumption that it is all the fault of the greedy corporations, and that more & bigger enlightened gov't is the solution. So a bit too simple for me.
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Anya Kamenetz is a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. The Village Voice nominated her for a Pulitzer Prize for contributions to the feature series Generation Debt, which became a book in 2006. She has written for the New York Times, appeared on CNN and National Public Radio, and been featured as a Yahoo Finance Expert. A frequent speaker nationwide, Kamenetz blogs at Fastcompany.com, The Huff ...more
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