Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America” as Want to Read:
Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,706 ratings  ·  314 reviews
Families today are squeezed on every side—from high childcare costs and harsh employment policies to workplaces without paid family leave or even dependable and regular working hours. Many realize that attaining the standard of living their parents managed has become impossible.

Alissa Quart, executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, examines the lives of
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Ecco
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Squeezed, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Deb K Both of our political parties have ignored the problem of a failing American middle class. For the past 40 years, the middle class has suffered many b…moreBoth of our political parties have ignored the problem of a failing American middle class. For the past 40 years, the middle class has suffered many blows to their spending power, increased job and financial instability, and overall increased costs. This is because the United States is generally no longer a place for a average Americans, and no politician will solve this problem no matter what they say because most politicians are from the very wealthy class. Although this book offers little in the way of actual advice, there are several things a person can do to protect themselves from this increasingly, wealth-centric country of ours:
#1: Live within your means. In other words, do not covet lifestyles that you might see on television and falsely believe that you too, deserve this type of lifestyle, even though to attain it means that you will have to go into debt. Remember, most Americans tend to show off their “assets”, without ever mentioning their true liabilities. Statistics show that many of your neighbors who appear “successful” by the things they own, are actually mired in deep debt!
#2 Stop watching television! Television and even the internet is there to make you feel like everyone else is doing so much better than you, and therefore you must try to catch up. Facebook does this too, as well as shows like HGTV which prime viewers to “keep up with the Joneses” no matter the personal or financial cost. Pick up a book and read widely instead.
#3 Buy as much unprocessed food as you can in bulk or on sale. Invest in a huge saucepan, or an Instapot pressure cooker to save time. Make and freeze meals ahead to save time and money. Keep a well-stocked pantry.
#4 Shop at thrift stores. Americans waste so much these days, a lot of it brand new! Practically new children’s clothes can be bought for pennies on the dollar!
#5 Take advantage of community colleges for your children to cut costs on more expensive college tuitions. With the availability of community colleges, no student should be saddled with debt as they graduate, especially for things like dorms and in-campus housing. College age students can also commute from home rather than live in a dorm which can sometimes equal the cost of tuition!
#6 Reconsider the extended family. When I was young, I frequently moved from major city to major city with $300-400 dollars in my pocket and got to live pretty well. I had nice apartments and ate out often, and I was a high school graduate at the time! If I didn’t like my job, I could quit, and be working somewhere new in a few days. Sadly, those days are long gone for most middle class millennials, and we parents know they won’t be coming back soon, if at all. This is why all middle class Americans will need to readjust our cultural expectations of what it means to be “independent” and the increased importance of extended family. Yes, your struggling post-college children will probably be living at home longer as a financial necessity, but this was not an uncommon situation for families less than a century ago. With rental prices increasing all the time, I would much rather see my young adult children live at home and SAVE their money, rather than make an already rich landlord even richer!
#7 Relocate. Do some research, and if you can, move to where the population is GROWING and not declining. This is VERY important! In my lifetime, I have seen once thriving towns dry up, with residents left angry and trapped by the economic decline, falling population, and lack of opportunity. This is what I call my “African Watering Hole” theory. You’ll never see a lion or an elephant at a dry watering hole for very long! Be aware of where the people and the jobs are going, and GO there as quick as you can, while it’s still affordable! I did this type of research 12 years ago when I left a major US city that was squeezing out its middle class residents and found a nice mid-sized city where I was able to buy a nice house and pay it off. These cities with growing opportunities and populations are still out there, mainly in the Midwest and South, and are being flooded by middle class families seeking opportunities every day. Find yours!
#8 Don’t go into credit card debt. Pay off your bills, and your mortgage. Enough said.
#9 Be kind. Help somebody out. As we middle class families are forced to cinch our belts even tighter to survive, we tend to forget that we are still some of the “wealthiest” people on the planet, some of whom don’t even have the basic necessities in life. Remember that and feel gratitude for what you do have, instead of coveting things that you don’t. You will be happier, less stressed, and dare I say, “grateful” - something that most Americans in their quest for relentlessly acquiring stuff rarely allow themselves to feel. Good Luck, American middle class. Our hapless politicians in both parties will promise us the world, but just look at the damage they have caused to the American middle class in the last 30 years, all the while, lining their own pockets!


Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,706 ratings  ·  314 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I looked forward to reading this book, because income inequality has become an important topic in America. I see firsthand the deterioration of the middle class, with professionals often working second jobs in the evening; families with two working parents struggling to pay for day care or patch together a network of relatives and friends to provide it because they can’t afford it at all; and people in their 20s and 30s held hostage to student debt or living with parents or roommates due to hous ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The United States is the richest and also the most unequal country in the world." ~Alissa Quart, "Squeezed"

If you live in the U.S., you surely know that many families barely get by, can barely pay the rent and put food on their tables. In Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about the struggles of low-wage Americans. In Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America, Alissa Quart brings to light the issues middle-class Americans face, which aren't alwa
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 3.5 stars

I’ve read several books that focus on the struggles faced by people living in poverty (such as Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City). I had not, however, read anything focused on the struggles of those in the middle class, so when I saw this book, I was eager to read it.

In Squeezed, Quart shares the difficulties faced by families, from the lower middle-class all the way up to the upper middle-class. Whether they are highly educated or not, each of t
Sarah Canfield
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars for the educational value, 2 for the conclusions. The author is a journalist and knows how to tell a story. All of the real life people she interviews demonstrate clearly the challenge of living in our current economy where housing and rent/mortgages have been rising while wages have stagnated. She shows how this impacts people across the economic spectrum from those with low income to those with upper middle class income. I came away understanding why people feel squeezed. The challenge ...more
Christine Cunliffe
I had high hopes for this book having good content but instead it turned out to be more whining than I had hoped. I completely disagree with everytime the author mentioned that people shouldn't blame themselves for where they ended up. The fact that there is zero accountability assigned to the stories that are mentioned really downgraded the quality of this book. Save your money and check it out from your library.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
A primary focus of this book seemed to me to be how very difficult and expensive it has become to have and raise kids in the USA today. She did talk about people who have lost jobs in midlife and their struggles to find another job; about the gig economy; about the rising cost of housing and education; and about automation. But she always circled back to the costs associated with having children and her own induction into the ranks of squeezed parents. She notes that care work is routinely deval ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book. Oh boy. I don't even know where to start.

Maybe I should start with the good stuff? For all of its issues, Squeezed is so dang *readable*. Quart's background in long-form journalism really shines in each chapter, and she does a good job moving between fact and anecdote to keep the material interesting. While you'll find a big list of citations at the end of the book, you don't have to worry about this being an academic text.

And maybe that's ultimately the problem. Quart's thesis is o
A really thoughtful look at why it is the middle class is so frequently squeezed -- why we can't afford houses or luxuries that were once available to our parents and why it is we'll never be as well off as our parents were. It's about the value of many industries and how the value has declined; specifically, this book looks at things like child care work, teaching, and even law, and how those jobs which were once seen as important are now among the quickest disappearing, least paid, and most ne ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
The difficulty in assessing this subject material is that it is clearly a pressing and urgent issue in today's society and family economics. I've asked the question hundreds of times, "how can the average family afford rent/mortgage, child care, and other essentials in today's America?" The answer: not easily, and not really.

Squeezed arrives at that conclusion quickly, and returns to it frequently. The differing motifs are a nice touch, but it was really difficult to get an idea of how the diffe
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well that was depressing. It's a really important topic, but the organization and examples were unfocused. It also suffered from a very New York/West Coast myopia that made me want to scream! There's a whole chapter about the New York City school lottery which is an important topic to people living there, but completely irrelevant to most of the country. It was also an extremely pessimistic book short on solutions. Blegh.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very well researched book on why the average American can't get ahead and guess what? It has little to do with personal failings and everything to do with a system that is rigged against us.

Quart points out that what causes poverty is A) lack of affordable healthcare, B) lack of quality and affordable childcare, C) lack of affordable housing, D) expensive post graduate education and E) low wages. Dare to complain you're having problems making ends meet and society informs you that 'you just aren
Patricia Underwood

This book sums up what's wrong in America. People with non-marketable degrees, people who refuse to leave areas with high cost of living etc , yet chapter one already finds a way to blame those bad, bad republicans. Yeah all set here. I wanted an unbiased view but apparently that was too much to ask. Glad I didn't spend a dime of my hard earned money on this rag.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Only a few chapters in, it was explained to me that these individuals deserve my sympathy not because they are on food stamps, nor because they are highly educated. They deserve my sympathy because they are on food stamps *despite* being highly educated. Ms. Quart lays out the theory that the pricey college and graduate degrees her subjects earned gave them more than a ton of debt; it gave them dreams, aspirations, and tastes. It gave them expectations of a good, middle class life, defined by mu ...more
Rachel León
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, read-in-2018
There have been a few books out (Evicted, Nickel and Dimed, etc.) that look at poverty, but this book looks at the financial issues of the middle class. Quart examines problems of educated people who can't get a job--professors, teachers, lawyers, nurses--or who simply aren't making enough money, as well as the devaluation of care workers and families. At times the book doesn't quite delve into topics as deeply as I'd like, but overall it's a great comprehensive look at why so many Americans are ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointingly at once repetitive and scattered. I think this would have functioned better as long form journalism, or an extended book, but the length was too short to be in-depth, and author came off repetitive at times. The chapter on TV shows was a strange inclusion in that it didn’t relate to the book at all, and I wasn’t familiar with most of the shows mentioned so it was further unengaging. I’ve read other books on similar topics that were much more effective (eg Evicted and The Unbankin ...more
Meaghan Lee
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, sociology
Some really fascinating statistics and information. Terribly, terribly written. My love of all things sociology is the only reason I could finish this book.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not quite sure how I feel about this one. There were parts I found insightful, but also parts that make me wonder how the author didn’t trip over her own bias on the way to publication. Despite quotes like this, “She was not a self indulgent hipster mom with a breast-feeding-till-the-kid-is-three fetish,” meant to justify why being accommodated for breast-feeding/pumping as an airline pilot was not outrageous (like it should matter if she was), I finished reading the book. I’m quite surprised th ...more
Donna Hines
Over educated and underpaid while being devalued without job security is at the nations core of the middle class.
Many of us are a step away from poverty if not already there and are struggling to survive while the motto goes around for the top 1% claiming to Make America Great Again but for who?
This book challenges the notion that America is not great with taxation being the main problem along with high childcare, no paid maternity/family leave, unattainable higher education programs/colleges do
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was kind of a scary and sad read.

Scary because it’s horrible that so many people are unemployed/underemployed at a time in life when they should be closer to retirement age. Sad because, according to this book, a lot of the same people are going back to school and going further into debt, and the result doesn’t always mean ending up with a well-paying job.

A lot of this book was focused on the struggles of parents, especially working women. As someone who is childfree I’m thankful about not
Maggie (babewithabookandabeer)
incredibly good.
Helga Cohen
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This book gives a grim accounting of life in America today and income inequality. The author describes how the middle class is struggling to maintain their position in the economy. Many are working two jobs and many have advanced degrees and can’t get jobs. Some of them have advanced degrees in the humanities like English and can’t make enough teaching and some get law degrees that are expensive but worthless from for profit Universities which are a sham. Most of the jobs needed today though are ...more
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was poorly edited and organized; in addition, as a fairly well-read liberal, not a lot of new information was presented to me. I generally found myself more annoyed with the stories, rather than sympathetic. The one chapter that did engage me was on the nannies who come from other countries to care for others’ children, usually leaving their own behind in the care of grandparents. And I too worry about robots and AI contributing to unemployment, but the only solution presented was Univ ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. It's an important subject and there are some good points here...but I just didn't like the writing.

Quart touches on a lot of contradictions and oddities in the American economy but then never examines them or provides depth. For example, in chapter 2 she talks about how adjuncts are getting paid less while colleges administrations are exploding and the cause of most increase in tuition but then immediately abandons the point. She then does on to talk about how
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I admit to skimming the chapters on the upper edge of the middle class and the lower edge of the upper classes: I have little sympathy for their temporary financial predicaments or their problems with lifestyle creep or keeping up with the Joneses.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book will piss you off. The American middle class is struggling to keep a sustainable lifestyle, but the outlook is pretty bleak unless politics change dramatically. Here's why:

- Out of control housing costs in desirable cities because of wealthy people and Airbnb
- Daycare and healthcare costs
- Daycare becoming ever more necessary for working families
- Unpredictable work schedules (see daycare above)
- Universities not giving decent pay/hours/benefits to adjunct professors
- Automation of tas
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Squeezed is a documentary style book, with chapters about various economic problems (childcare costs, rent costs, the deletion of tenured work in academia, etc) interspersed with personal stories of Americans trying to make it within this modern day gilded age of stagnant wages and massive inequality. While Quart offers some valuable insights, clearly has completed a lot of research and makes prescient points about the decline of the middle class and the treading water above poverty that so many ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alissa Quart's book is interesting (in a generally-alarmed-for-society kind of way) as it looks at the ways that current trends are undercutting the middle class. She focuses particularly on housing, child care, and job trends, highlighting areas that are a struggle across a wide array of social groups. If her book has a weakness, it's that she keeps her eye fixed on urban and suburban areas (not surprisingly, since that's where most of the people/jobs/houses are). It just would have been good t ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Basically, no matter what you do (get an education, work hard, yada yada) the deck is stacked against the 99% and there ain't NOTHING anyone can do about it!!
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As someone who is approaching retirement age this book opened my eyes to the cultural and economic changes that challenge the next generations. I found the book to be depressing and I'm not sure I agree with all of her analysis and conclusions. Still, I like a book that makes me think and this one did.
Cynthia Jeub
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
The research in this book is dense, and for that it is a much-needed book. Quart's research is unfortunately less than groundbreaking however, and doesn't go far enough in exploring the ramifications of her findings. While the opening chapters pointed to an overarching sense that our financial failings are not our fault - they are symptomatic of a crumbling system - the end offered nothing revolutionary. I mostly gleaned from her research to help support my own, as her most shocking findings wer ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
  • Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
  • Formerly Known As Food: How the Industrial Food System Is Changing Our Minds, Bodies, and Culture
  • Give People Money: The Simple Idea to Solve Inequality and Revolutionise Our Lives
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive
  • Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It
  • Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
  • Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear
  • Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises
  • The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table
  • American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment
  • Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
  • Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America
  • Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
  • Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost
  • Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence
  • Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary
  • Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America
See similar books…
Alissa Quart is the executive editor of the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She co-founded its current incarnation with Barbara Ehrenreich. She is also the author of four previous acclaimed books, “Branded,’’ “Republic of Outsiders,’’ “Hothouse Kids’’ and the poetry book “Monetized.’’ She writes the Outclassed column for The Guardian and has published features and report ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
20 likes · 13 comments
“It was also the suspicion that I was paying "rent" every time I went out for coffee or a walk, that there was no longer any public space to sit in, that a high charge was always associated with "hanging around"; once again I'd have to buy that unwanted second overpriced spice tea, or hand over another chunk of change for an hour at the indoor play space for my daughter.” 0 likes
“Caregiving also is the object of a more realistic critique, as some have noted the psychological toll of the profession. Scholar Arlie Hochschid...worries about the potential harm to workers who must sell the most intimate parts of themselves, manufacturing smiles and cuddles for low pay.” 0 likes
More quotes…