Named one of the Best Business Books of 2007 by Library Journal
The Missing Class gives voice to the 54 million Americans, including 21 percent of the nation’s children, who are sandwiched between poor and middle class. While government programs help the needy and politicians woo the more fortunate, the “Missing Class” is largely invisible and ignored. Through the experiences of nine families, Katherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen trace the unique problems faced by individuals in this large and growing demographic-the “near poor.” The question for the Missing Class is not whether they’re doing better than the truly poor-they are. The question is whether these individuals, on the razor’s edge of subsistence, are safely ensconced in the Missing Class or in danger of losing it all. The Missing Class has much to tell us about whether the American dream still exists for those who are sacrificing daily to achieve it.
About The Missing Class
Fifty-seven million Americans-including 21 percent of the nation’s children-live a notch above the poverty line, and yet the challenges they face are largely ignored. While government programs assist the poor, and politicians woo the more fortunate, the “Missing Class” is largely invisible and left to fend for itself.
Missing Class parents often work at a breakneck pace to preserve the progress they have made and are but one divorce or unexpected hospitalization away from sliding into poverty. Children face an even more perilous and uncertain future because their parents have so little time to help them with their schoolwork or guide them during their adolescent years. With little supervision, the younger generation often flounders in school, sometimes falling prey to the same problems that are prevalent in the much poorer communities that border Missing Class neighborhoods. Paradoxically, the very efforts that enabled parents to get ahead financially often inhibit their children from advancing; they are in real danger of losing what little ground their parents have gained.
The Missing Class is an urgent and timely exploration that describes-through the experiences of nine families-the unique problems faced by this growing class of people who are neither working poor nor middle class. Katherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen trace where these families came from, how they’ve struggled to make a decent living, and why they’re stuck without a safety net. An eloquent argument for the need to think about inequality in a broader way, The Missing Class has much to tell us about whether the American dream still exists for those who are sacrificing daily to achieve it.
From the Hardcover edition.
Paperback | $16.00
Published by Beacon Press Sep 01, 2008| 272 Pages| 6 x 9| ISBN 9780807041406
Ebook | $15.99
Published by Beacon Press Sep 01, 2007| ISBN 9780807041413
In this compassionate and clear-eyed analysis . . . Newman and Chen contribute significantly to the dialogue on America’s widening inequities. —Publishers Weekly
“The Missing Class is a call to action to change America.”—Senator John Edwards
“At last, a focus on people who struggle from month to month with housing, health care and education costs but don’t fit into the government’s comfortingly minimalist definition of poverty. Newman and Chen give us a vivid, close-up, and often moving look at the urban ‘near poor.’ An excellent follow-up to Newman’s essential body of work on America’s economic anxieties.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
“Just above the artificial ‘poverty line,’ millions of hard-working people struggle invisibly to gain a foothold on the promise of the American Dream. Their raw hardships and persistent hopes, collected in this book of unflinching portraits, ought to sound the alarm for an America grown complacent.”—David Shipler, author of The Working Poor: Invisible in America